History Characters / RavagesOfTime

10th Apr '13 11:48:41 AM Bibliotheca
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[[folder: The Sima clan]]

One of the richest and most prestigious merchant clans residing in He'nei of Yanzhou, which boasts vast material wealth and business influence as well as multiple court connections. At the beginning of the story, the teenage Sima Yi has become the clanshead thanks to his intelligence and keen business sense. Following his audacious schemes, the clan has not only withstood the chaos and remained firm in its position as the rich patron of He'nei but also become a force to be reckoned with among many warring factions. However, little by little, the clansmen find themselves sunken deeper into the chaos they (or rather, Sima Yi and his right-hand-man Liaoyuan Huo) helped create.

* AnnoyingYoungerSibling: Sima Yi's little brothers who drive everyone nuts with their little tricks.
* BattleButler: Jia Kui's father to Sima Yi.
* [[spoiler:BodyguardBetrayal: The final leader of the Handicapped Warriors, Xu Ding, is actually on Cao Cao's side... along with the Sima clan's own men-at-arms.]]
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder
* [[spoiler:DarkestHour]]: [[spoiler:Volume 25]].
* DespairEventHorizon: [[spoiler: Came very close to crossing it during the years they were made Cao Cao's personal money bag, and finally crossed it in the near-total annihilation the Cao soldiers and insiders carried out on them in volume 25 -- at one point, Sima Yi orders that his men hold him down before telling him the bad news.]]
* [[spoiler:DecapitationPresentation]]: [[spoiler:The fate of Sima Yi's Fourth uncle when the Sima clan's mutiny was sabotaged.]]
* [[spoiler:DrivenToSuicide]]: [[spoiler:..and the fates of the remaining clansheads, two of which were results of SelfDestructiveCharge.]]
* [[spoiler:EverybodysDeadDave]]
* {{Fiction500}}
* IFightForTheStrongestSide: More like, 'invest' in the strongest side. And will turn on them the moment things look unsavory. [[spoiler:Too bad serving Cao Cao just doesn't work that way.]]
* [[spoiler:KillEmAll]]
** [[spoiler:CameBackStrong]]: [[spoiler:It is now allied with the Zhang and Shan clans thanks to Sima Yi's marriage to Shan Wuling (aka Zhang Chunhua) and, by Sima Yi's machinations, has united the merchant clans in Cao Cao's home base.]]
* LegacyOfService: The father and son of Jia family who take turn serving as Sima Yi's [[TheDragon Dragon]]; the son Jia Chong would go on to serve Sima Yi's son Sima Zhao, who was instrumental in [[spoiler:the collapse of Wei and its usurpation by his son Sima Yan, the inaugural emperor of Jin]].
* MoleInCharge: Jia Kui.
* MonochromaticEyes: Jia Kui.
* MoralityPet: The entire clan, and to some extent even the Crippled Legion (especially Liaoyuan Huo), to Sima Yi.
* NiceGuy: Sima Yi's brother, Sima Lang.
* OnlyInItForTheMoney: The reason for their involvements in warlord affairs.
* [[spoiler:[[MyDeathIsJustTheBeginning Our Death Is Just The Beginning]]]]
* [[spoiler:SacrificialLion]]
* ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney
* ShipperOnDeck: Sima Yi's little brothers and the other Legion members to Huo/Xiao Meng.
* TheDragon: Jia Kui to Sima Yi.
* TheScrooge: Sima Yi's three uncles.
* UndyingLoyalty: A virtue commonly found in their servants, though the Sima clan returns the favor, with Sima Yi's brother Sima Lang going so far as to [[spoiler:plead with his servants to take his head as a bargaining chip with which to save themselves during Xu Ding's assault on the residence]].

!!Sima Yi
[[quoteright:223:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/569d39a3ac174f7a0ef477b2_1158.jpg]]
-> ''"[[CrapsackWorld The world is filled with evil]], and fighting it is like hitting a rock with an egg. [[WarIsHell Years of war would only bring misery to the living]]. [[IFightForTheStrongestSide It may be better to help the strongest power]] to [[TakeOverTheWorld conquer the world]], then after a speedy restoration of peace, [[TheStarscream take over the reign]]."''

The head of the famous merchant clan Sima, and also the strategist behind every success of its assassin squad, the Crippled Legion. He's not interested in taking the side of any warlords, and only makes a move when it gives his family a new business opportunity. With Liaoyuan Huo, his schemes behind the scene have been crucial in many major wars, and have caused some others, between warring states, even though historically it will not be tens of years later until Sima Yi makes his first appearance. However, the interferences of other schemers on the scene make it inevitable that he soon will have to take a permanently active role in the conflicts of this era. [[spoiler: After his clan is exterminated during a mutiny against Cao Cao, he finally joins Cao Cao's side to plead impunity for the remaining members of his family. His true goal is, however, to help Cao Cao defeat all other warlords, and then seize power from him.]]

It should be noted that he is the implied 'phoenix' in the series title, a fact several times [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] in the narratives.

* AnimalMotif: He's often compared to a wolf [[spoiler:and has a neck like one, which once saved his life from a NeckSnap]], but his true animal motif is the phoenix. In-universe, Pang Tong is the only one who seems to realize this and has commented on it. [[spoiler: He should know, since Sima Yi beat him in solving a puzzle, the reward for which was the two title Fledgling Phoenix and Crouching Dragon. The only other one to solve the puzzle correctly, Zhuge Liang, got the Dragon title - meaning the Phoenix title might very well have been Sima Yi's, had he been one of the Eight.]]
* {{Bishonen}}: Not that we can't see it, but it's even indirectly confirmed in-universe. [[spoiler: He looks identical to Fifth Genius Zhou Yu, THE bishonen of the Three Kingdom period.]]
* [[spoiler: BestServedCold]]: [[spoiler:His plan for the eventual payback against Cao Cao.]]
* '''''TheChessmaster''''': Definitely on par with the Eight Geniuses in this regard.
** AlwaysSomeoneBetter: Sima Yi to ''every other strategist''. Only the Eight Geniuses are spared TheWorfEffect in a duel of wits with him, themselves being universally acknowledged as the best strategists of China.
** BookDumb: According to one of his old classmates, he could barely pass because his grades were so bad. It might just be a case of BrilliantButLazy, though, as the same classmate admitted he never beat Sima Yi in maths.
** BrainsAndBrawn: The brains to Liaoyuan Huo's brawn.
** BrilliantButLazy: At first. And then he finds his GoalInLife...
** '''CrazyPrepared''': Competes with the [[MagnificentBastard Eight]] [[TheChessmaster Geniuses]] (and beats them, very likely) to be the king of this trope in this series. The fact that he has more hidden pieces to be used at the last moments to save the day than anyone else on the same gameboard is lampshaded for God knows how many time, and quite a number of fans have been frustrated by his over-the-top resourcefulness to the point they consider him the resident DeusExMachina.
** MagnificentBastard
** TeenGenius
** TheManBehindTheMan: Oh so much.
** ThePlan: Every bit as good at them as the Eight.
** WildCard: Sima Yi's strategic genius and his clan's monetary influence are great allies for any warlords to have. Too bad they just couldn't care less about who comes out the winner, only how much cash they can make out of each campaign, and will switch to whichever side that benefits them. [[spoiler: This attitude is what eventually convinces Cao Cao that an unreliable ally is better a dead ally, and he wipes them all out.]]
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: Is seen as suffering from this by others. Which makes him terrifyingly effective as a [[spoiler:RedHerringMole]], as [[spoiler: Yuan Fang]] found out too late...
** As Cao Cao's DragonWithAnAgenda, he seeks every opportunity to prove his worth to Cao Cao and if there's no opportunity present, [[TheManBehindTheMan he creates them by lending secret helps to the enemies]].
* CorruptCorporateExecutive
* CreateYourOwnVillain: His part in [[spoiler:Xiao Meng]]'s death might be the start of a series of circumstances that eventually prompts [[spoiler:Huo]] to kill him as seen in chapter 1.
* DarkMessiah: Knowing his capability and [[TheStarscream philosophy]], Liaoyuan Huo believes he has the potential to be this. He... has certain reservations, and would rather not be. [[spoiler:The reservations got thrown outta the window when his family died at Cao Cao's hands.]]
* DidntSeeThatComing: [[spoiler: Who could have known that Xu Lin had ''another'' son ?]]
* DreamingOfThingsToCome: Has one in the 1st chapter, of how his life will end.
* DragonWithAnAgenda
* EvilCounterpart: To Zhuge Liang. They're both geniuses gifted with the most extraordinary degree of foresights and are initially unwilling to participate in the war for similar reasons - Sima Yi sees the world as too infested with evil to care about anything except the financial interest of his family, and, though he arrives at this conclusion much later on, Zhuge Liang also loses hope for the country's redemption at some point - but their personalities and philosophies are fundamentally different: Yi is money-driven and lacks any particular regard for ethics while Liang is one of the most morally upright characters in the story, Yi would rather serve a morally ambiguous ''and'' powerful lord to swiftly end the war while Liang pledges loyalty only to another as righteous as himself. Liaoyuan Huo/[[spoiler:Zhao Yun]] is a loyal follower of both (his switching allegiance marks a major character development), and their masters (Cao Cao and Liu Bei), interestingly enough, turn out to be [[EvilCounterpart Evil]]/GoodCounterpart of each other as well.
* FakeDefector: He frequently makes use of [[spoiler: the grudge on Cao Cao of his family's downfall]] to become buddy with the enemy side and feed them the wrong information.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: He tended to get too deeply involved in warlord conflicts for the sake of family business (in many an occasion it was thanks to Huo's screw-ups, but he did not dwell on that) while remained fully aware of the risks. The outcomes benefitted them for a while, [[spoiler:until Cao Cao got hold of the secret of their underhanded business with the Crippled Legion and Xun Yu forced him to surrender on basis of that claim so that the Cao clan could extort money from the Simas until their near financial collapse. ''Then'', he fell for Pang Tong's ruse and raised a mutiny in accordance with the anti-Cao warlord alliance's revolt, only for the Cao army to curb-stomp it and wipe out his clan.]] Later, he swears to drop these habits.
* IDidWhatIHadToDo: His reason for [[spoiler:causing Xiao Meng's death]]. Liaoyuan Huo is, naturally, not placated.
* ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice: How he will die, as shown in [[BookEnds chapter 1]].
* KickTheSonOfABitch: Unhesitantly if said SOB obstructs his family business in any way.
* KingIncognito: He likes to wear servant's clothes and walks around acting like one (tending to horses, cooking, etc.). It frequently leads to [[RightInFrontOfMe Right In Front Of You]] moments, when people realize (usually too late) that he's the de facto leader of Sima clan and the guy in command of the Crippled Legion.
** Later, when his identity is pretty much known to everyone, he changes his fashion style to another more befitting his status.
* LooksLikeCesare: In his later years, as shown in volume 1 and 13.
* MysteriousBacker: To Liu Bei. [[spoiler:Though it isn't exactly a mystery, Liu Bei has been clued in on his identity ages ago.]]
* NotInThisForYourRevolution: He's known for aiding warlords and igniting multiple wars just to expand his family business. It doesn't please a lot of people, including his friend and subordinate Liaoyuan Huo, and eventually [[spoiler:when the Sima clan (or rather the Handicapped Warriors) are revealed to have been involved on a plot on Cao Cao's life and to mutiny against him, he has the clan purged]].
* OhCrap: [[spoiler: When he realized Pang Tong's plan had backfired on him and his family.]]
* OpenSecret: His TheStarscream gambit above in the quote? It was first relayed by Liaoyuan Huo to Zhuge Liang, then Xun Yu, through Zhuge Liang, knows it. Guo Jia correctly guesses it and Jia Xu, through Guo Jia, knows it as well. While he doesn't grasp the details, Cao Cao also suspects it. In other words, the one he's planning to overthrow and the three greatest obstacles to that plan of overthrowing now knows exactly what he's up to. His worth as a [[TheChessmaster Chessmaster]] is [[CantKillYouStillNeedYou the only thing that keeps him alive for the moment]].
* PetTheDog: He can be a dick to a lot of people, but Sima Yi truly cares about the welfare of his family and those he considers friends, for self-serving purposes or no. So far, we've seen him [[AFriendInNeed helping out old friends like the Chen family and Wang Yun]], [[BenevolentBoss pardoning Liaoyuan Huo's blunders many times]] [[NiceJobBreakingItHero (granted, he was also at faults in some occasions)]], or [[ShooTheDog even cutting ties with his business partners and the Crippled Legion when things turned sour so that they wouldn't be dragged down into his mess]].
* RefusalOfTheCall: The beginning narration stated that he had repeatedly had a dream which prophesied his and his sons's ruling of the Wei empire and lording over Cao Cao's descendants, which was, in true prophetic dream style, as obvious about his destiny as obviousness can get, but he refused to think much about it. Liaoyuan Huo is convinced his strategic brilliance can be used for good, but he isn't interested. [[spoiler: He no longer refuses the call [[TheCallKnowsWhereYouLive after his clan was exterminated]].]]
** Well, he had an intention of usurping Cao Cao before that, as evidenced by his early talk with Zhuge Liang. He just also had that sweet illusion that everything will always go his way, and his goal might be achieved without a real personal cost. Also, said dream also prophesied his best friend killing him, so that might have been another reason to not hurry the events.
** Back in volume 13 when he met Zhuge Liang, the usurpation idea was still all talk and there was no sign that it was specifically aimed at any warlord, though. The Sima clan wasn't officially in league with Cao Cao and Cao Cao was still a rising minor power, hardly "the villain destined to unite the land" as was later obviously shown.
* ShootTheDog: [[spoiler:When Xiao Meng botched his final atttempt on Cao Cao's life and doomed himself in the process, he decided to pull the trigger by ordering Jia Kui to exploit the Cao soldiers' hatred of eunuches so that Cao Cao would be pressured to publicly execute Xiao Meng on the spot. In his defense, it might also be seen as a MercyKill since Xiao Meng was already at the verge of death and living any longer would just guarantee him further tortures at Cao Cao's hands.]]
* StartOfDarkness: [[spoiler:What happens to his family in volume 25]] was the birth of the man who would go on to topple Cao Cao's empire and whose bloodline eradicated the Shu and Wu kingdoms.
* SymbolMotifClothing: A phoenix emblem can be spotted in his clothing.
* TemptingFate: Agreed to the allegiance with Cao clan because he thought he would be able to deal with Cao Cao's extortions. [[spoiler:Turned out he couldn't.]]
* TheChosenOne: The titular phoenix who will be the eventual winner of this war.
* TheStrategist: Duh.
* TheTrickster
* TrueNeutral -> [[spoiler:NeutralNoLonger]]
* UnderstandingBoyfriend: To Shan Wu Ling, whose [[MagnificentBastard Magnificent Bitch]] tendencies are rather too hard for many men to swallow.
* UnholyMatrimony: With said beautiful, intelligent and equally unscrupulous Shan Wu Ling.
-->'''Zhang Lei:''' A match made in heaven... a dog and his bitch.
* UnwittingPawn: Pang Tong's [[spoiler:for his chain stratagem gambit in volume 23-24]].
* WorthyOpponent: To the Eight Geniuses.
* YoungAndInCharge: He's been in charge of family business since his teens and brought it unprecedented fame and wealth with incredible foresights and ingenious schemes.

!!The Crippled Legion
The most famous - and widely reputed to be the most fearsome - assassin squad of the current age, placed under the control of Sima clan and Sima Yi. They consist of [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin handicapped fighters]], who weaponize their handicaps and [[GenreSavvy take advantage of the fact that people tend to underestimate the disabled]] to carry out their missions, with a success rate close to 100%. Their leader is the notorious "one-eyed leader", [[spoiler: currently]] Liaoyuan Huo. Other members are Guo Ang (whose handicap is an amputated arm), Zhang Lei (whose handicap is an amputated leg), and Xiao Meng (who is an eunuch). Another is San Chuan, a muted assassin who rarely appears.

[[spoiler: They were partially disbanded after Xiao Meng went MIA during a mission and Liaoyuan Huo left to find him. With Guo Ang's death during the Sima clan extermination and Xiao Meng's death in Xiapi, the Crippled Legion ceased to function as a group, although the remaining lone member still acts under Sima Yi's command.]]

* '''''BadassCrew''''': [[spoiler:Alas, no more.]]
* BattleButler: Quite possibly a given status of each member. They place high in the hierarchy of family servants, shown by how they're normally adressed as senior servants by others.
* BashBrothers
* BerserkButton: San Chuan, the Japanese assassin, will launch at whoever laughs derisively (or seems to do so) at Sima Yi.
* BigDamnHeroes: Whenever Sima Yi assigns them on a rescue mission. The biggest, damnedest of them all is of course Liaoyuan Huo.
* [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu Did You Just Punch Out Lu Bu]]
* TheDragon
* DespairEventHorizon: [[spoiler:Crossed it when Xiao Meng goes missing and Liaoyuan Huo runs off to search for him.]]
* [[spoiler: DwindlingParty]]
* EyepatchOfPower: Is a RedBaron for the leader of the squad, also his trademark looks. It can be misleading to outsiders, because the current leader is not blinded at all. [[spoiler: It's actually a physical trait of the 1st generation leader, ''the'' original legendary one-eyed assassin.]]
* GenreSavvy: Look at their MO. [[spoiler: It was the 1st generation leader who advocated it.]]
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Liaoyuan Huo [[spoiler:who is Zhao Yun]], Xiao Meng [[spoiler:who is Diao Chan]] and Guo Ang [[spoiler: who fathered Guo Huai, later to be a famous general of Cao Wei empire.]]
* LivingLegend: They are to assassins what [[WorldsStrongestMan Lu Bu]] is to [[OneManArmy one-man-armies]].
* LosingTheTeamSpirit: [[spoiler: After Xiao Meng went MIA.]]
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: Inverted - a handicapped bunch isn't what you want to call your most powerful assassin squad, but played straight in that they're such a force to reckon with that people really do piss themselves from the mere mention of their name.
* OneManArmy: Save for Xiao Meng, each of the Legion member can be qualified as one, especially Liaoyuan Huo.
* ProfessionalKiller
* TeamSpirit: And how! It's even one of their combo technique, which gives ''Lu Bu'' a hard time.
* TheMole: Xiao Meng and Liaoyuan Huo in the Dong Zhuo arc. [[spoiler: The leader succeeding Liaoyuan Huo, Xu Ding, is one for Cao Cao.]]
* TheSmurfettePrinciple: Kind of averted with Xiao Meng, who is technically not female.
* TheVoiceless: San Chuan, the assassin who normally serves as Sima Yi's bodyguard.
* TrueCompanions

!!Liaoyuan Huo/Zhao Huo/[[spoiler: Zhao Yun]]
[[quoteright:225:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/1309870469_9999.jpg]]
-> ''"I wait for the moment [[TitleDrop the fiery phoenix scorches the plains]]."''

The young leader of the Crippled Legion and a friend to the Sima clan's young head, Sima Yi. Liaoyuan Huo is an assassin with prodigious fighting skills and an unique handicap that makes him one of the strongest warriors in the story. Unlike the amoral Sima Yi, Liaoyuan Huo is a very righteous man who values justice and, despite their strong friendship, hates Sima Yi's indifference to the world's chaotic state. He's also discontented with the life of an assassin, but nevertheless stays unwavered in his loyalty to the clan and commitment to his comrades, whom he treasures. The 'fire' that 'scorches the plains' (the three characters 火 'huo' and 燎原 'liao yuan') in the series title refers to him.

[[spoiler:He's also Zhao Yun, later to be one of the Five Tiger General of the kingdom Shu led by Liu Bei. Following the destruction of Sima clan, he serves Liu Bei as a part of Sima Yi's vengeance {{plan}} on Cao Cao - to help Sima Yi create the strongest enemy possible for Cao Cao, so that Sima Yi can have a chance to rise to prominence through proving himself in campaigns and overthrow Cao Cao in the end.]]

* AFatherToHisMen
* TheAtoner
* '''{{Badass}}''': Deserves special mention for the healthy amount of CrowningMomentOfAwesome he's responsible for in the series. [[spoiler: And also for being Zhao Yun.]]
** AsskickingEqualsAuthority
** CombatPragmatist: He always aims for the leader of the opposing charge, as nothing breaks army morale than having a leader killed in their midst.
** CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass: He played up the "moron" part in the hostage rescue arc (volume 1-5) to fool Sun Shu and Yuan Fang, but out of their sight and he immediately returned to being the badass he was. [[spoiler:Case in point: He and Sun Shu were cornered by 15 low-ranked generals of the Ministry of Military right in the middle of their homebase. Shu tried to fight back, but bit off more than she could chew and was about to be raped. Then whoop! ''In a matter of seconds'', from the moment a signboard touched the ground until it completely fell over and revealed the carnage, Huo killed all 15 generals by their own swords and his little kunais, then threw the sword to a vase-seller, who ran away at the sight of him and caused Sun Shu to mistake that guy to be her savior.]]
** CurbStompBattle
** FeelNoPain: His handicap, responsible for his ImplacableMan status and the [[NoOneShouldSurviveThat flabbergasted and horrifed]] [[WhyWontYouDie reactions]] of anyone who has ever fought him.
** FoeTossingCharge: As required of an OneManArmy in Ravages.
** FutureBadass: Yes, even more badass than he already has been, [[spoiler:as general Zhao Yun.]]
** GeniusBruiser: You know he got the genius when he's promoted to the leader position of '''the most dangerous assassin squad in the world''' in his teens.
** HandicappedBadass: Though to be fair, we're yet to see a negative effect to his handicap, except that it steadies his feet on the battleground when he should have quit long ago.
** HeroicWillpower: Sometimes it's not his handicap that keeps him running (and to get it run out of, you need troubles on Lu Bu's magnitude), but this which pulls him back up for another round.
** ImprobableWeaponUser: When he gets serious, he likes to toss some-inches-long kunais at the enemies with deadly accuracy and very impressive sound effects (hell, he can even ''fatally spit'' them at his opponents). He can use a ''hoe'' and still kicks BIG asses.
** SubmissiveBadass
** SuperSenses: In particular, his hearing, which is also incredibly good at picking up (fake) accents.
** SuperToughness: You've gotta admit not even his FeelNoPain handicap can carry him so far in battles if he himself isn't already MadeOfIron.
** TookALevelInBadass: More like, jumps and leaps levels in badass.
** TranquilFury: ''Oops''. [[spoiler:Run, Yuan Tan, run.]]
* [[spoiler:BecomingTheMask]]: In chapter 386 when [[spoiler:to quote his teacher Liu Da, "Liu Bei's pretentiousness has rubbed off on [him]," as Liaoyuan Huo kills the swordsman holding Lady Gan hostage at Changban, explaining his preference for "the wealth of sagely words" to "the wealth of gold as inheritance"]], then in the next chapter [[spoiler:fights his way through Liu Da's men to get to Liu Da before stabbing him ''through'' Lady Mi, to snatch Adou from Liu Da's grasp]]. After [[spoiler:Lady Mi absolves him for mortally wounding her]], the chapter concludes with him vowing to protect the Liu family -- referring to himself as [[spoiler:Zhao Yun]].
* ChickMagnet: Sun Shu's smitten with him, and Xiao Meng (who's technically not a chick) is deeply in love with him. He seems to be quite popular with the courtesans in Luyang, as well.
* ChronicHeroSyndrome: Indulges this. Sometimes it works out well, but other times it leads to dire consequences. [[spoiler:Such as when he aided the Xuzhou defense against Cao Cao's campaign and thus gave Cao Cao the clue and evidence he needed of the ties between Sima clan and Crippled Legion]]. Or [[spoiler:when he stayed to fight alongside 'Sun Ce' against an army of hostile rebels, which turned out to be for naught as 'Sun Ce' was still killed and he was not even the ''real'' Sun Ce. The Crippled Legion also suffered severe loss, including Xiao Meng going MIA, to get him out of this mess alive.]]
* ConflictingLoyalty: What he's slowly realizing that he will have to face - between his righteous lord, Liu Bei and his true master, Sima Yi, though [[[spoiler:in chapter 387 he seems to decisively turn towards Liu Bei... or at the very least, he seems to make this turn as far as Liu Da believes, anyway]].
* DespairEventHorizon: Crosses it twice [[spoiler:when Xiao Meng went missing and during the Sima clan's extermination.]]
* {{Determinator}}
* DreamingOfThingsToCome: Turns out he has one as well, [[spoiler: the same one Sima Yi has, in fact]]. [[spoiler: He's the monster who kills Sima Yi in that dream.]]
* TheFettered
* {{Foil}}: To Sima Yi's immoral business-oriented mind.
* FutileHandReach: [[spoiler: His famous scene of parting with Xiao Meng.]]
* [[spoiler:HeartbrokenBadass]]: For a short while, [[spoiler:after Xiao Meng's death.]]
* [[spoiler:HeelFaceTurn]]: [[spoiler:He finally makes the turn in chapter 386 and 387, when he decides he's too fed up with the life of an assassin with no future and the absence of morals in Sima Yi's philosophy and constant exposure to Liu Bei's righteousness has finally convinced him that GoodFeelsGood, with BigDamnHeroes style in keeping with CrowningMomentOfAwesome standards to boot: he defies his JerkAss teacher Liu Da and saves Liu Bei's son in the process... albeit by running Lady Mi through in order to stab Liu Da's shoulder so as to prove that he's even more ruthless than Liu Da. That said, given his history with the Sima family and years of treating Sima Yi like a brother, it still comes as a tear-jerking decision for him.]]
* HeroicBystander: All too often, and see ChronicHeroSyndrome to know why he should have just left others to their business.
* HeroicVow: [[spoiler:"Zhao Yun... swears to protect the Liu clan"]] - and thus starts his legend at [[spoiler:Changban slope]].
* HitmanWithAHeart
* HoYay: He knows Xiao Meng is an eunuch but treats him like a girl, and Xiao Meng is deeply in love with him.
** The novel also implies that he was pretty much [[ObliviousToLove oblivious to Xiao Meng's and his own feelings]], until things went down the hill.
* IHaveManyNames: [[spoiler: He finally settles for Zhao Yun, a name Liu Bei gives him.]]
* IWillFindYou: To [[spoiler: Xiao Meng]]. [[spoiler: But he will be too late.]]
* LastKiss: With [[spoiler:Xiao Meng]] in volume 18.
* MeaningfulEcho: Not exactly the line, but the context in which it's spoken - [[spoiler:"May your beautiful dream come true, Young Master"]].
* MeaningfulName: 'Huo' means 'fire', one of the overarching themes of the entire series (besides being an eponymous character).
** MeaningfulRename: See IHaveManyNames above.
* TheMole: Is one for Sima Yi on Liu Bei's side. However, given his ConflictingLoyalty and what we already know will become of his friendship with Sima Yi, it seems to be only a matter of time until he drops this act for good. [[spoiler:Which he finally did at Changban slope.]]
* MrFanservice
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: [[spoiler: When he realized that by accepting the job to assassinate Cao Cao, he had played right into Pang Tong's hand and doomed the Sima clan to their death.]]
* MyMasterRightOrWrong
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: Sima Yi's own faulty judgements aside, it was his heroic, but thoughtless, meddlings that ultimately effected [[spoiler: the Sima clan's downfall]].
* OpenSecret: Liu Bei & co. suspects, and Zhuge Liang knows, that he follows Liu Bei under some unscrupulous designs courtesy of Sima Yi.
* ThePromise: Sima Yi's accountability [[spoiler:in Xiao Meng's death]] notwithstanding, he would still abide by his young master's plan and set Liu Bei up to be Cao Cao's greatest enemy, thus providing Sima Yi the career advancement opportunities he needs. [[spoiler:And he will see to it that Sima Yi's prophetic dream come true in the end.]]
* SixthRanger: To team Liu Bei later on, and stays with them for good [[spoiler:after the Sima clan massacre.]]
* [[spoiler: StreetUrchin]]: [[spoiler: Was one, before he was taken in by the 1st generation leader of the Crippled Legion.]]
* UnstoppableRage: [[spoiler:His response to the Yuan generals' trampling on Xiao Meng's remains. Cue ass-kicking and a stupendous display of badassery that sent Yuan Tan's ''fucking army'' running for their lives.]]
* [[spoiler:UnwittingPawn]]: [[spoiler:Became Pang Tong's in volume 23, much to his horror upon realization in volume 24.]]
* TomatoSurprise: [[spoiler:He is the monster on flame we saw killing Sima Yi in chapter one. The dream turned out to be prophetic of their mutual fates.]]
* [[spoiler:WeUsedToBeFriends]]
* WhatTheHellHero: [[spoiler:To Sima Yi for betraying Xiao Meng and causing his death.]]
* YouAreWorthHell: To Xiao Meng.
* YoungAndInCharge: People finds it hard to believe that young as he is, he can be the leader of the Crippled Legion. They're convinced the moment he shows off his skills.

!!Xiao Meng/[[spoiler: Diao Chan]]
[[quoteright:246:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/566295_4410.jpg]]
-> ''"[[DudeLooksLikeALady Call me a girl]] and [[BerserkButton I will kill you]]."''

The archer of the Crippled Legion and an eunuch. His feminine beauty gives him great advantage when acting as a spy, but he's very sensitive about it and reacts violently to whoever touches upon the subject of his gender. [[spoiler:It was during a mission to spy on Dong Zhuo that he adopted the name 'Diao Chan', thus linking his existence to one of the most famous women (although fictitious) of Chinese history]]. Like Liaoyuan Huo, Xiao Meng considers the other Crippled assassins his family and cherishes not-so-brotherly affections for Liaoyuan Huo.

[[spoiler:He went MIA during a mission, and ended up in Lu Bu's camp. Manipulated by Lu Bu to assassinate Cao Cao in accordance with Pang Tong's scheme, Xiao Meng, together with Liaoyuan Huo, unwittingly brought about the Sima clan's demise at the hands of Cao Cao. Desperate for vengeance, he aided Lu Bu in resistance to Cao Cao's Xuzhou campaign, and when Lu Bu failed, proceeded to again make an attempt on Cao Cao's life. Due to Sima Yi's betrayal, he failed and was subjected to a brutal execution, but a glimpse of foresight at Sima Yi's long-term sheme just before dying allowed him to rest in peace. However, his death greatly aggravated Liaoyuan Huo and enlarged the rift between him and Sima Yi, which ironically was the very opposite of his dying wish.]]

* AttractiveBentGender: He's disguised himself as [[spoiler: Diao Chan, one of the four famous ancient beauties of China.]]
* BerserkButton: Just try calling him "sister".
* BrokenBird: He struggles with crippling inferiority complex and gender identity disorder, reveals in a flashback that in his teens he occasionally abused drugs to cope with the ensuing depression, and that's not including the romantic feelings for a family member that he has bottled up for a long time yet cannot let them out. Oh, and then that family member decides to get married to another woman, who loses no time to rub it into his face. [[spoiler:Then his adoptive family are murdered as a result of a blackmail scheme he was unintentionally a part of]]. It's no wonder that by the end of Lu Bu's story arc, Xiao Meng has become a DeathSeeker.
* CallBack: [[spoiler:The scene where Xiao Meng left his comrades for good: stabbed by multiple spears, falling off a high cliff while trying to take an enemy with him, before his eyes was Liaoyuan Huo trying to reach out for him but couldn't is exactly how he goes out at the end of Lu Bu arc: falling from the rooftop of White Gate Tower in the midst of an assassination attempt on Cao Cao, one of the last thing he saw is an illusion of Liaoyuan Huo jumping to catch him.]]
** It's no coincidence that in the panel where Xiao Meng thinks "Debts must be repaid", the rest of the panel consists of the snarling face of [[spoiler:"Blind Xiahou" Dun]], who'd just [[spoiler:shot Xiao Meng with a thrown spear]], with [[spoiler:the eyepatch that he wears due to Xiao Meng having shot out his left eye]] clearly visible.
* CannotSpitItOut: He loves Liaoyuan Huo, but is so conscious of his body's condition that he's convinced they will not have a chance together. [[spoiler:Sharing a LastKiss is the closest he can ever communicate his feelings to Huo.]]
* [[spoiler: CruelAndUnusualDeath]]: [[spoiler: His final assassination attempt on Cao Cao failed. He's stabbed in the stomach by a thrown lance from Xiahou Dun, falls from a tower, gets stripped half-naked by Cao Cao's soldiers, then Cao Cao kills him and his body is skewered and minced under dozens of spear. Ouch.]]
** [[spoiler:GoryDiscretionShot]]: [[spoiler:The author was merciful to make it largely a DeadHandShot, but the scene of Xiao Meng's hand raised amidst a dozen spears skewering his body is enough nightmare.]]
** [[spoiler:ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice]]
* [[spoiler:DoomedByCanon]]: [[spoiler:Being Diao Chan means he would no longer be around after Lu Bu's arc.]]
* DudeLooksLikeALady
* DudeMagnet
* EnemyMine: [[spoiler:He allied with Lu Bu in Cao Cao's 2nd Xuzhou campaign.]]
* EvenTheGuysWantHim: As said, [[spoiler: he's Diao Chan]], though to be fair, most of the guys infatuated with him (Dong Zhuo, his sons and nephew, etc.) [[DudeLooksLikeALady do not know he's male]]. However, knowing he's one doesn't make less heads turned at the sight of his beauty, or stop Liaoyuan Huo and Lu Bu from having the hots for him.
* FemmeFatale: His [[spoiler: Diao Chan]] persona.
* FriendToAllChildren: He's the nanny of Sima Yi's little brothers, who are very fond of him (and calls him [[BerserkButton sis]]). [[spoiler: Even Lu Bu's little daughter liked him, and thought he smelled like her late mom.]]
* GoOutWithASmile: Though it doesn't stick. [[spoiler:The second time, however, is nothing so pretty.]]
* HelloNurse and StupidSexyFlanders: Produces these effects on every males he meets so effectively that not even Lu Bu is immune, much to his chagrin.
* [[spoiler:KilledToUpholdTheMasquerade]]: [[spoiler: Sorry Xiao Meng, Sima Yi can't save you this time. He orders his Dragon to set up your death because he still has to play nice to Cao Cao for the sake of his long-term revenge.]]
* IfItsYouItsOkay: He absolutely hates being called a girl, but he's overjoyed when Liaoyuan Huo does it [[spoiler: in their parting moment.]]
* ImprobableAimingSkills: As to be expected of someone whose teacher can do somersaults in mid-air and shoot accurately at the same time.
* ImprobableWeaponUser: He can make a makeshift set of arrow and bow from ''hair clips''.
* [[spoiler: KillTheCutie]]
* [[spoiler: LetThemDieHappy]]: [[spoiler: He could have died with the regrets of having failed to avenge the Sima clan, but the well-timed appearance of Jia Kui, Sima Yi's infamous [[TheDragon dragon]], made him realize that Sima Yi had not lost the will to pursue revenge. His last thought indicated that he did not blame Sima Yi, and that he died in peace.]]
* MasterPoisoner
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: [[spoiler: Briefly, when he realized that his futile attempt to kill Cao Cao could have risked the entire Sima clan being endangered again and foiling Sima Yi's plan for revenge. He was glad to know that it didn't.]]
* ReplacementGoldfish: In the novel Xiao Meng, the child Xiao Meng was adopted by two influential eunuches in the court because he looked like an Emperor's concubine one of the eunuches had feelings for. Also, Lu Bu's daughter adores him because he smells like her mother and she senses that her father likes him too.
* RevengeBeforeReason: This mentality of Xiao Meng coupled with his mistrust in Sima Yi and a blatant DeathSeeker tendency prevent him from ever uniting with the people he loves. [[spoiler:Case in point: he has many chances to find his way back to Sima Yi, especially after Lu Bu is besieged at Xiapi and his soldiers are fleeing, but instead he chooses to stay with Lu Bu. When Cao Cao enters Xiapi, it's another chance to find Sima Yi and shares his thoughts about the revenge, instead he goes off assassinating Cao Cao solo. At the top of White Gate tower where everyone can see him. With Cao Cao's bodyguards present. It ends as well as you expect.]]
* ShootTheShaggyDog: [[spoiler:Believing Sima Yi has given up on revenge for the Sima family, Xiao Meng decides to assassinate Cao Cao in broad daylight as his last duty to the clan. Only, Cao Cao still lives, he fails to get anything done, gets mortally injured and falls into Cao Cao's hands. Even worse is that we know (and he quickly realizes later) that regardless of whether the kill succeeds or not, by merely attempting it he can make things worse for Sima Yi since Sima Yi ''has'' a plan for revege, a plan so long-term that it requires him to bend his knees to Cao Cao and any tricky move on Xiao Meng's part would cost everyone's lives. Sima Yi barely manages to avert the ShootTheShaggyDog scenario going into full effect when he tips Cao Cao of the assassination to exempt himself from further suspicions and Jia Kui incites the soldiers to call for Xiao Meng's execution on the spot, which might be some sort of consolation for Xiao Meng, but at the end of the day Xiao Meng still dies a pretty shaggy dog's death that he could have avoided simply by having a little more faith in his master and bothering to contact him before trying anything.]]
* SoBeautifulItsACurse: Xiao Meng would probably be a lot happier about himself if he didn't look like a girl (or rather, more beautiful than a girl) that much.
* SugarAndIcePersonality
* [[spoiler:TakingYouWithMe]]: [[spoiler:Tried this to Gan Ning, during the latter's siege to kill 'Sun Ce' and Liaoyuan Huo, and failed. At the White Gate Tower, he almost did this to Cao Cao, but was thwarted mid-attempt by Xiahou Dun.]]
* TeamMom: Although he will make pincushion of anyone who calls him a girl or even girly-looking, this is what he acts like to the other Crippled Legion members.

!!Zhang Lei

* [[spoiler:ActionSurvivor]]
* [[spoiler:AnArmAndALeg]]: [[spoiler: His handicap went from one to two legs after the fight with Xu Ding.]]
* [[KickChick Kick Dude]]
* {{Determinator}}: During [[spoiler:his last hurrah against Xu Ding]], he has one demand: "[[spoiler:Kneel. Kneel to the dead.]]"
* ParentalSubstitute: To Wang Shuang and Guo Huai [[spoiler:after their fathers' deaths.]]
* [[RedOniBlueOni Blue Oni]]: To Guo Ang's [[RedOniBlueOni Red Oni.]]
* TeamDad
* UndyingLoyalty
* YouAreInCommandNow: [[spoiler:After Liaoyuan Huo left the Sima clan to find Xiao Meng, he was appointed the next leader.]]
* [[spoiler:[[YouKilledMyFather You Killed My True Companion]]]]: [[spoiler:A futile variance, which cost him his remaining leg.]]

!!Guo Ang

* BaldOfAwesome
* [[spoiler:ConversationCasualty]]
* [[spoiler:DeadSidekick]]
* [[spoiler:GoryDiscretionShot]]
* [[OlderThanTheyLook Older Than He Looks]]:[[spoiler: By the time he dies]] He is married and has a son.
* SuperStrength
[[/folder]]

[[folder: The Eight Geniuses]]
[[quoteright:252:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/566595_1242.jpg]]

The [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin eight genius]] military advisors who are students of Sima Hui 'Shuijing' (commonly translated as 'Water-Mirror'), a famous teacher who educated many famous strategists in the previous decades. Their abilities far surpass the common men of this age, and thus their service is much sought after. Whichever warlord faction, no matter how diminutive, is chosen by one of the Eight will soon become a competitive force in the race to conquer and unite China. Once a Genius has chosen a lord, he will take off the mask and uniform (which was designed identically with the purpose of hiding their respective identities) and leave the school.

So far the revealed Geniuses are: Yuan Fang, Xun Yu, Jia Xu, Guo Jia, Zhou Yu, Pang Tong, Zhuge Liang. The Eighth has made very few appearances in the series, and his identity has fueled much fan speculations. Of the Eight, five have picked a master: Yuan Fang who serves the Yuan clan; Xun Yu, Jia Xu and Guo Jia who serve the Cao clan; lastly Zhou Yu who serves the Sun clan. The Sixth Pang Tong and the Seventh Zhuge Liang have expressed their approval of a lord (Liu Bei) but are yet to join him.

Below are tropes applied to the Eight Geniuses:

* AntiHero: The 2nd and 7th Geniuses share many traits of Type II (they have the HeroicSpirit and the will to do good, yet are undoubtedly influenced by [[CrapsackWorld the world they live in]] enough to dispense with any positive outlook), the 3rd and 6th Geniuses are arguably Type III, while the 4th Genius is a straight Type IV. The 1st Genius, who started out as a standard anti-hero, later develops into a ByronicHero/villain of sorts.
* BadassFingerSnap: Seems to be the new fad among the four participants of Guandu.
* '''''TheChessmaster'''''
** ChessmasterSidekick
* CoolMask: Will drop this when they join side with a warlord.
* CrazyPrepared: It's part of their job description.
** Xun Yu's motto is "Eons of cultivation for one moment of utilization".
** Special mentions go to Yuan Fang with his long-term plans for the Northern conquest, Guo Jia for planning for the Guandu showdown 20 volumes before it officially takes place, and Pang Tong for delaying his graduation [[spoiler:to gather warlords for an all-out campaign against Cao Cao]].
** Guo Jia's scheme [[spoiler:planned for Cao Cao's sake before his death]] involves thwarting Sima Yi's predicted insurrection and somehow preventing Zhuge Liang, Pang Tong and Zhou Yu from kicking Cao Cao's ass in Chibi. It's not made clear exactly what's his plan for Chibi, but we know at least that Sima Yi would not revolt for another 42 years.
* CrowningMomentOfAwesome: You could rename the entire manhua into "Eight Geniuses: CMOA the Series" and no one would be able to tell the difference.
* [[spoiler:DwindlingParty]]
* [[CoatHatMask Garb, Hat, Mask]]: Their identical uniform, designed with the purpose of making it impossible for people to tell them apart.
* GenreSavvy: All of them are, but [[DangerouslyGenreSavvy of particularly devastating efficacy]] are Yuan Fang, Jia Xu, Guo Jia and Zhuge Liang.
* GoodIsNotNice: Given how the Geniuses' shared goal is the ultimate peace for the people and how their acts have stabilized the country's condition, they certainly ''are'' a force of good. However, all of them - even the "good guys" like Xun Yu - consider manipulating, deceiving, betraying and/or sacrificing some hundred thousands of lives legitimate means to the accomplishment of said goal. This trope is averted with Yuan Fang, who eventually slips into the territory of an EvilGenius and puts his efforts into [[TakeOverTheWorld something else entirely]].
* KickTheSonOfABitch
* LivingLegend
* [[ManipulativeBastard Manipulative]] and [[MagnificentBastard Magnificent Bastards]]: Any of them can be seen as both by the people they manipulate and the people their manipulations benefit, but so far Guo Jia and Yuan Fang take the cake.
* EstrogenBrigadeBait
* PersonOfMassDestruction: To put it in Yu Ji's words - "In terms of bringing chaos, how are the Eight Geniuses different from the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Attendants Ten Attendants]] ?"
* TheHeavy
* TheManBehindTheMan
* ThePlan: They are the undisputed masters of nearly every possible manifestation of this trope.
* TheStrategist
* TheyJustDontGetIt: All of them have invoked this at least once, because the guys on the receiving end usually don't have the foresights and brilliance to understand their schemes.
* ToWinWithoutFighting: To show off how brilliant they are, each Genius has pulled this off at an earlier point in their career.
** In the Battle at Hulao Gate, Yuan Fang [[spoiler:tricks the Guandong warlords into using up their remaining rations, sacrificing their best generals and facing Lu Bu all on their own, while his army beats a silent retreat.]] This move gives the Yuan a good start in conquering the Northern land.
** In the showdown against Lu Bu at Chang'an, Jia Xu [[spoiler:sacrifices his lords twice to lure Lu Bu into a false sense of security and fall into his trap]]. When the dust settles, Lu Bu barely manages to escape with his life and Jia Xu's army enters Chang'an with ease.
** In the 1st Xuzhou campaign, Guo Jia [[spoiler:massacres tens of thousand of civilians to frighten the surrounding citizens into moving to Xuzhou and eats up Xuzhou's rations.]] By this method, he takes over ten cities for Cao Cao.
** In the Rise of Sun Ce arc, Zhou Yu achieves this for Sun Ce by [[spoiler:setting up Yuan Shu's two generals and Liu Biao against each other by clever manipulation and counter-intelligence]]. Thanks to him, Sun Ce can march to the Eastern region unhindered, while his two archenemies continue to fight and wear each other down.
** In his debut, Pang Tong [[spoiler:manipulates his students and three other warlords to launch a campaign against Cao Cao]]. The plan eventually breaks down, but [[spoiler:Pang Tong's pledged lord Liu Chong, with his force intact and his army morale strong, can now start expanding territory.]]
* WellIntentionedExtremist: They all aspire to bring an end to the endless wars, and are more than willing to wage more wars to achieve it. Yuan Fang breaks out of this tradition when his motives become somewhat [[TakeOverTheWorld more personal]].

!!Yuan Fang
[[quoteright:224:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/0001600x1200_1621.jpg]]
-> ''[[RefusalOfTheCall The lone crane prefers the peace of seclusion]]; [[ResignedToTheCall how could he be heard across the heavens…]]''

The First Genius. A member of the prominent Yuan clan, Yuan Fang's primary goal is to expand his clan's territory in the north, and acts as First advisor to the clan leader Yuan Shao. He is Yuan Shao's illegitimate son, but since his brilliance far surpasses his three half-brothers (Yuan Shao's legitimate sons), Yuan Shao inwardly acknowledges Yuan Fang as the true heir and spares no efforts to strengthen his position within the clan; [[spoiler:he even kills Yuan Fang's childhood sweetheart to force him into a marriage he wants no part of]]. Although Yuan Fang never truly forgives his father for this, over the years he starts to relent to Yuan Shao's plans, and gradually manifests the ambition to take over the clan and overthrow Imperial Han. The course of the story also observes Yuan Fang's transformation into a ruthless man unhesitant to eliminate anyone in his way, even his former classmates.

[[spoiler:He was killed at the end of the Battle of Gushi vs. Cao Cao (year 200) by Yang Qing, a confidante who turned out to be Yang Xiu, Guo Jia's mole and the son of his father's former political rival. Shortly after, Cao Cao and the three Geniuses concealed his death and disposed of his body in secret, thus further aggravating the situation on Yuan side as they were left with no competent leader and uncertainty over Yuan Fang's fate. The truth did not reach Yuan Shao until 202 and his close subordinates some times later, and by then his faction had mostly dissolved.]]

* TheAce: Oh boy is he ever.
** BadassBookworm: He and Zhou Yu are the only ones among the Eight Geniuses who are both strategist and general, which already gives him a definite advantage over "table strategists" like Guo Jia. The author also goes to extensive length to show off his broad knowledge of old military treatises, in the midst of battles no less.
** BeatThemAtTheirOwnGame: Displayed in all its glory in Guandu. [[spoiler:He beat his three underclassmen, each of them a genius, in their playing fields - Xun Yu was stuck dealing with countless insiders in the court and the Cao clan that Fang has planted beforehands, Jia Xu was delayed by the insurrection in Runan he was supposed to have taken care of thanks to Fang's incitement, Guo Jia got his ass handed to him right in their first battle on account of Fang's sheer superior tactical genius, and Sima Yi the spy was tricked by Fang's counterintelligence gambit and brought back a sacrifical mole.]] ''But'' he just also happens to be a classic example of winning the battle but losing the whole war, [[spoiler:since Guo Jia already planted a mole by his side ''waaaaaaaaaaay'' back then, who is now his most trusted confidante. Who killed him as soon as the Battle of Guandu is over.]]
** CrowningMomentOfAwesome: Pretty much every battle he participates in, in or outside the battlefield. [[spoiler:Though in the battle of Gushi, his victory was followed by something much different..]]
** CurbStompBattle: Thanks to his army's massive number advantage, one's almost always guaranteed. But the elimination of Guandong alliance, the pre-Guandu anti-Gongsun Zan campaign and the entire Guandu arc show that it's his brilliant strategies that win half the fight.
** OffscreenMomentOfAwesome: During a few months that we never got to see, he turned the Guandong warlords against each other and obliterated all but one of them. Gongsun Zan's final defeat at his hands got the same treatment, [[spoiler:and apparently the entire ordeal was bad enough to mind-break the once-proud warlord, drove him to murder his family, commit suicide, and curse Fang as the "demon king" in his last breaths.]]
** [[OmnidisciplinaryScientist Omnidisciplinary Strategist]]: Extremely adept at warfare and politics ? Check. Well-versed in an esoteric battle formation that overpowers Sun Tzu's [[TheArtOfWar Art of War]] and nearly every offensive tactics ever recorded to last him three months on the attacks against Cao Cao's camps ? Check. Honor student of Shuijing, teacher of many famous strategists [[spoiler:and Zuo Ci, one of the Eight Eccentrics and a leader of Taiping cult]]? Check. People, meet the First of the Eight Geniuses.
** SmugSuper: He looks down on Sun Tzu's teachings and its learners, and will not give up a chance to tell them how much better his choice of military teachings are. [[spoiler:Backed up. He knows the Feng Hou Eight Diagram Position formation, and if you've read [[RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms the novel]] or watched [[RedCliff the movie]] and are aware of its fame as Zhuge Liang's ''invincible'' formation, you know shit's coming.]]
** TeenGenius: In a flashback, a teenage Fang was shown beating Sun Jian and his generals in a mock game of battle, with Sun Jian's side using Sun Tzu's tactics.
* [[spoiler:AlasPoorVillain]]
* AnimalMotif: The crane.
* BeautyMark
* BigBad: Of the Guandu arc.
* BreakTheCutie: All he ever wanted was to not give a damn about his father's EvilPlan and live out his life with the woman he loved. Cue said father killed the girl and jump-started his StartOfDarkness.
* BreakTheHaughty
* CallingTheOldManOut
* ChildhoodFriendRomance
* DragonInChief
* [[spoiler:DeathByGenreSavviness]]: [[spoiler:He was the only one who's ever seen through Sima Yi's FakeDefector scheme, and it backfired horribly for him.]]
* DidntSeeThatComing: [[spoiler: Sorry Yuan Fang, this time Sima Yi is not TheMole.]]
* [[spoiler:DoomedByCanon]]: [[spoiler:WordOfGod states that since Fang doesn't exist in history and RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms, he will have to disappear after Guandu.]]
* [[spoiler:FailureIsTheOnlyOption]]: [[spoiler:For all his brilliance, his plans went up in smoke without an exception.]]
* GoneHorriblyRight: [[spoiler:He prepared for the takeover of the clan by inciting hostility among the potential heirs, Yuan Tan and Yuan Shang, to wear their forces out. When he was no longer around to keep them in check, the tension escalates to uncontrollable height and leads to the clan's defeat.]]
* '''{{Jerkass}}''': Seriously, between him and [[NecessarilyEvil Guo]] [[{{Jerkass}} Jia]], Guo Jia is the lesser of the two devils.
** '''''ChronicBackstabbingDisorder''''': Many (if not all) of Fang's schemes involve him making moves which seem to be in his allies' favors, but turn out to be backstabbings of the most vicious kind in disguise and make [[TheStarscream Lu Bu]] look tame in comparison.
** IShallTauntYou
** KickTheDog
** TookALevelInJerkass: And he continues to take them throughout the events that lead to the Battle of Guandu. By Guandu, he's a full-fledged {{Jerkass}} [[IceQueen Ice King]], and becomes Cao Cao's, the three Geniuses' and Sima Yi's most dangerous opponent to date.
** [[spoiler: [[WouldHitAGirl Would Kill A Girl]]]]: [[spoiler:And his classmates. And his brothers. ''And'' his father.]]
* KillEmAll: The fates of the warlords of Guandong faction at his hands. In the battle of Guandu, this is his plan for [[spoiler:his father, three half-brothers and Cao Cao]], by [[spoiler:luring the first three to gather in one place and the last one in another, then he burned them both up.]]
* [[spoiler:KilledOffForReal]]
** [[spoiler: GoOutWithASmile]]: [[spoiler: In his last moments, he saw the ghost of his sweetheart Xiao Cha [[TogetherInDeath return to take him with her]].]]
** [[spoiler:DiedInYourArmsTonight]]
** [[spoiler: DueToTheDead]]: [[spoiler: After it was recovered, his body was properly taken care of in a funeral pyre arranged by Xun Yu, Guo Jia and Jia Xu. Bittersweetness ensued as they reflected on what Yuan Fang's ending foreshadowed for the future of the Eight Geniuses and bid him farewell, their enmity entirely burned away by the fire.]]
* LightIsNotGood: White-haired, white-robed, and a backstabbing [[spoiler:patriacidal]]-[[spoiler:fratricidal]] [[TheChessmaster Chessmaster]].
* MurderTheHypotenuse: His own lover was a victim of this trope, and God knows it, [[TheMourningAfter Yuan Fang]]'s not averse to pulling it again if another marriage offer comes along.
* OutGambitted: [[spoiler:By Guo Jia when it comes to planting [[TheMole moles]].]]
* ThePlan: His crowning ones are the Guandong faction vs. Dong Zhuo arc [[spoiler: in which he ultimately turned every defeats of the Guandong faction, mainly suffered by other minor warlords, into critical strategic advantages for his clan]]. In the Battle of Guandu, he pulls another, on an infinitely more epic scale, that can give Pang Tong a run for his money. [[spoiler:Had it succeeded, it would have resulted in the simultaneous removal of his greatest obstacles (his father, half-brothers and Cao Cao), the union of Yuan clan and the victory against Cao Cao's faction]]. And note that in the events after [[spoiler: his death]], it was revealed that he had [[XanatosGambit even accounted for the probability of his plans being foiled]], and had calculated so that even then, there would be no harm done to him and his opposing factions would shoulder all the blame.
* ParentalFavoritism: Yuan Shao favors him the most out of all his sons, as he considers Yuan Fang the most capable of them all.
* PreachersKid: [[InvokedTrope Invoked]] as Type 2 - he's supposed to be the immoral bastard son that overthrows the three-generation-loyalist tradition of Yuan clan that Yuan Shao, his father, advocates. To anyone who knows better, the preacher and the kid in this case are more like birds of a feather.
* PrideBeforeAFall: He was first introduced as the mastermind behind the Guandong hostage rescue mission and his plans performed outstandingly enough [[spoiler:until Dong Zhuo and Lu Bu successively countered all of them, and then Sima Yi topped it off by countering Dong Zhuo and Lu Bu with a well-timed move from a well-planted mole - Liaoyuan Huo]]. It happens again in the climax of Guandu, [[spoiler:and this time it's a literal, fatal fall.]]
* ResignedToTheCall: He's never really that interested in taking over the Yuan clan (or China, for that matter), but due to circumstances and Yuan Shao's manipulations, gradually yields to this idea.
* StarCrossedLovers: With Xiao Cha.
* StartOfDarkness: The death of his sweetheart, Xiao Cha, is one for him.
* TheMourningAfter
* TheStarscream: To Yuan Shao, and it's no secret between them.
* TooCleverByHalf: ''Big'' time, and he pays dearly for it. [[spoiler:When Sima Yi offered to be his mole and assist the Yuan clan from inside Cao Cao's ranks, he immediately knew Sima Yi is playing the FakeDefector card again, and employed appropriate countermeasures. What he failed to take into account is, Guo Jia had sent Sima Yi precisely because he actually counted on Yuan Fang to make that deduction and focus on handling Sima Yi, while the true [[TheMole Mole]], Yang Qing, was able to operate without inhibitions. The results? Thanks to everyone's attentions completely being diverted to Sima Yi, Yang Qing successfully burned the Yuan army's rations and assassinated Yuan Fang, ensuring a decisive victory for Cao Cao.]]
* {{Tykebomb}}: One that Yuan Shao had prepared for the takeover of Yuan clan and China. [[spoiler:Later became a LaserGuidedTykebomb when Fang chose Shao to be among his first victims in the wake of his master plan.]]
* UsedToBeASweetKid
* VillainWithGoodPublicity: He practically tears the Yuan clan apart with the devious schemes to supplant his brothers and the pacifist faction (led by Tian Feng), yet remains very popular to other clansmen thanks to his record-breaking military successes.
* XanatosSpeedChess: Has a remarkable talent for it.
* WhiteHairedPrettyBoy
* WorthyOpponent: Considers ''Zhuge Liang'' his.

!!Xun Yu
[[quoteright:221:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/73790_4441.jpg]]
-> ''"With [[NobleTopEnforcer my guidance]], an anti-hero [[SubvertedTrope would only be Imperial Han’s most loyal minister]]."''

The Second Genius. Xun Yu's true strength is diplomacy, but he's as well-versed in warfare as any of the other Geniuses. From the beginning days of Cao Cao's faction, his benevolent ministry, as opposed to Guo Jia's 'Darkness Ideology' in military affairs, has helped fortify Cao Cao's rule. Thus stems his nickname, 'Zhang Liang', a homage to a famous advisor who aided Liu Bang in the construction of the Han dynasty.

Unlike Guo Jia and Jia Xu, the two Geniuses whose aim is Cao Cao's eventual rule, Xun Yu works toward the restoration of Imperial Han. Believing Cao Cao to be the only one able to achieve this, Xun Yu pledges his loyalty to him, even after Cao Cao's ambitions manifest in Guo Jia's favor. Xun Yu's greatest feats to date are the recruitment of thousands of Yellow Turban's troops and the Emperor's capture, both of which have contributed monumentally to Cao Cao's faction, elevating him to the status of most influential warlord of the land.

* {{Ambadassador}}: With [[BadassFamily his nephew Xun You]].
* BadassPacifist: He's the NiceGuy of the Eight Geniuses who prefers to settle things without bloodshed. Not [[KillEmAll killing and decimating everything in his way]] like Jia Xu or Guo Jia can make it harder for him to get things done, but it doesn't mean his strategies are any less incredibly effective.
* BeautyMark
* BewareTheNiceOnes: He [[ArmorPiercingSlap slapped Sima Yi]] for being a money-hungry warmongerer and totally led Cao Cao by the nose [[spoiler:during the entire Emperor rescue arc in volmume 19]]. People don't cross Xun Yu for a reason.
* BreakTheCutie: By Cao Cao's [[spoiler:massacre of innocents in the 1st Xuzhou campaign]] and Yuan Fang [[spoiler:who shot him on sight in the very 1st battle of Guandu arc]], but he got over both fairly quickly.
* DistressedDude: Gets hit with this more often than the others. He gets kidnapped at the beginning of Xuzhou campaign, then gets shot at the beginning of Guandu campaign [[spoiler:by orders of Yuan Fang]].
* DragonWithAnAgenda: A rare good example. The only reason he serves Cao Cao is because he believes the Emperor (where his true loyalty lies) is young and powerless against the treacherous warlords, and therefore needs a capable vassal to help him unite and administer the country.
* GoodIsNotSoft
* [[spoiler:[[LetThemDieHappy Let Guo Jia Die Happy]]]]
* LongHairedPrettyboy
* NobleTopEnforcer: His people skills and merciful policies gave Cao Cao a good start and raised his status from a defeated warlord to an influential one, and are the reason Cao Cao is so popular with the soldiers and people he conquered.
* PetTheDog: Has more moments of this than all of the other Geniuses combined. Hell, it's his official role in Cao faction.
* ThePlan: [[spoiler:The Emperor escorting arc in volume 19.]]
* [[spoiler:SympathyForTheDevil]]: [[spoiler:He forgave Guo Jia's heinous deeds and conceded to his ideals just before Guo Jia died.]]
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure
* TeethClenchedTeamwork: With Guo Jia at first, since his generous nature simply does not go hand in hand with Guo Jia's habit to massacre millions in his {{plan}}. It was quite one-sided as Xun Yu did most of the teeth-clenching while Guo Jia was totally cool with it. Their partnership significantly improves over time, though. [[spoiler:And they managed to reconcile just before Guo Jia died.]]
* TenMinuteRetirement: :Cao Cao's adoption of Guo Jia's vicious military strategies shocked him into shutting himself away (and being absent for the most part of Xuzhou campaign), but several volumes later he still turned up to help Cao Cao out of a pinch against Lu Bu and Chen Gong.
* TheSocialExpert
* WhatTheHellHero: Nine volumes after the incident, he still chided Cao Cao for his approval of Guo Jia's massacre of Xuzhou.

!!Jia Xu
[[quoteright:221:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/2112dfcce525562893457e90a_265.jpg]]
-> ''"[[WellIntentionedExtremist Darkness]] precedes [[ForGreatJustice the light of dawn]]."''

The Third Genius. A friend of the Fourth Genius Guo Jia, Jia Xu is a fervent believer in the 'Darkness ideology', the belief hailing actions of utmost cruelty, rather than of benevolence, as the ultimate mean to pave way for peace and prosperity. This causes his rupture with the way of justice Shuijing taught, which he deems obsolete, and his premature graduation from the school of Shuijing. He has a positive opinion of ruthless and cunning warlords who have the will to wage wars to bring peace to the people.

[[spoiler:During the course of the story, Jia Xu has served various lords. He was particularly loyal to Dong Zhuo, the Imperial Prime Minister whose inhuman reformist method was the closest to his ideal. After Dong Zhuo died in Lu Bu's usurpation, Jia Xu joined forces with Dong Zhuo's son-in-law Niu Fu and successfully overthrew Lu Bu. Since then he's expressed the intention to join Cao Cao and secretly kept in touch with Guo Jia, but still stayed with the remnants of Dong Zhuo's faction. When Cao Cao's expedition against Lu Bu began, Jia Xu returned and played one of the vital roles in Lu Bu's eventual elimination.]]

* BadassBoast: This guy has a reputation for claiming to accomplish impossible feats with minimal forces and backing them up in ways you cannot believe. In fact it's gone to the point that even ''saying it alone'' is sufficient to scare off his opponents.
* BecauseDestinySaysSo: Believes Cao Cao is favored by Heaven, and it's his fate to serve such a man.
* BrutalHonesty: Just like his [[RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms other]] [[DynastyWarriors incarnations]].
* ButtMonkey: Because he's SurroundedByIdiots [[spoiler: until he joins Cao Cao]], who simply wouldn't take his good advices. He always gets the last laugh.
* DangerouslyGenreSavvy: He's very much aware of the fame surrounding his BadassBoast and ThanatosGambit, and uses it to his advantage [[spoiler:as Lu Bu and Liu Bei learn the hard way]]. His ThanatosGambit is a good example of this trope as well.
* DespairEventHorizon: Crossed it when his lord [[spoiler:Dong Zhuo]] and his sworn brother [[spoiler: Li Ru]] died in Lu Bu's usurpation, having not heeded his advice.
* GetAHoldOfYourselfMan: To Guo Jia, who was too depressed about his declining health to put his tremendous talents to good use. It helped Guo Jia get over it and join Cao Cao's side.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: With Guo Jia.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: [[spoiler:To avenge Dong Zhuo and Li Ru]] He helped the kind of [[StupidEvil Li Jue and Guo Si]] take over Chang'an and approach the young, defenseless Emperor. About ten volumes later, the once prosperous Chang'an could barely hold together, civilians were starved to death and took turns robbing the palace, and the Emperor had to evacuate with court officials.
* ParanoiaGambit: He's been enjoying pulling this lately. Like it much, [[spoiler:Liu Bei]]?
* PetTheDog: After his departure, Jia Xu remained on good terms with Zhang Ji, the only decent leadership figure left in the Dong faction, and accepted Zhang Ji's dying request to take care of his hotheaded nephew Zhang Xiu. Though, it might have something to do with his intention to stabilize the southern front (Zhang Xiu's base) for Cao Cao.
* RevengeBeforeReason: Because for revenge against Lu Bu or not, surely no-one who prioritizes reason will help Li Jue and Guo Si conquer Chang'an and leave the Emperor in their control.
* ThanatosGambit: His trademark move, which thrice has overthrown [[spoiler:Lu Bu]]. [[spoiler:And he didn't even use it the third time, he merely made Lu Bu believe so.]]
* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: Like Guo Jia, a proponent of this trope.

!!Guo Jia
[[quoteright:240:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Ravages_of_Time_v21_001_1338.jpg]]
-> ''"[[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans If you want a revolution]], [[ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight why care about what the world thinks?]]"''

The Fourth Genius. He's praised as the 'King of strategic decisions', a nod to his ability to account for virtually every scenarios possible in his plans. Like his close friend Jia Xu, Guo Jia is also a proponent of the 'Darkness ideology', which hails actions of utmost cruelty, rather than of benevolence, as the ultimate mean to pave way for peace and prosperity. This, while perpetuates his fame as Cao Cao's 'darkness', also strains his relationship with his upperclassman and comrade Xun Yu.

Much to Guo Jia's despair, he is afflicted with a terminal illness (possibly tuberculosis), which dooms him to a premature death. Guo Jia has long since resigned himself to fate, reluctant to enter anyone's service, until Jia Xu persuades him to join Cao Cao, a warlord they both deem worthy of serving. As Cao Cao's right-hand-man, he plays a vital role in expanding the influence of Cao faction, which grows vigorously and quickly equals that of the Yuan clan.

[[spoiler:He finally succumbed to his illness and died in 207, by then having already fulfilled his wish of annihilating the Yuan clan and uniting the North for Cao Cao.]]

* AdaptationalBadass: All the Geniuses are this to some extent, but Guo Jia is especially favored with this treatment. His deeds were impressive in the origial RoTK but nowhere near as numerous and magnificent as they are in Ravages, where almost every status-changing victory of Cao Cao can be credited to him.
* AdaptationalVillainy: He sure as hell wasn't a genocidal freak, knight-templarish brainiac, general jerkass and resident evil genius in Cao Cao's camp back [[RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms there]].
* AnimalMotif: The crow. It has a deeper meaning than the obvious association with death, though, which isn't elucidated until much later.
** RavensAndCrows: His appearances in earlier volumes are sometimes followed by a flock of crows, and a volume cover also portrayed him surrounded by crows.
* AwesomenessByAnalysis: Liaoyuan Huo really should have thunk twice before trying to bluff this guy.
* CallBack: [[spoiler:He dies in the exact same way Jia Xu told him he should during his first appreance in volume 10 - serving the country and Cao Cao 'til the last second, nevermind the fact that his name can be sullied beyond comparison after a lifetime of killing people for his PayEvilUntoEvil justice.]]
* CantKillYouStillNeedYou: What his partnership with Sima Yi boils down to. [[spoiler:He passed it on to Cao Cao.]]
* DangerouslyGenreSavvy
* DarkIsNotEvil: The darkness embodiment of the Eight, and the most selfless martyr for greater goods among them so far.
* {{Determinator}}
* [[spoiler:DiedInYourArmsTonight]]: [[spoiler:In his dying breaths, he was comforted by Xun Yu, who made peace with him, acknowledged the righteousness of his brutality and the magnitudes of his sacrifices (having chosen to become NecessarilyEvil to aid Cao Cao in his world conquest), and died in Xun Yu's arms.]]
** [[spoiler:GoOutWithASmile]]
* TheDragon: To Cao Cao.
* EstablishingCharacterMoment: Hammed his way into the plot by declaring the country is beyond saving except through the worst and cruelest means, then encouraged Cao Cao to frame an innocent administrator as a cause for war, and carried himself with indifference to other's scorns and ridicules through the whole thing.
* FourIsDeath
* GracefulLoser
* HeroWithBadPublicity: Ultimately made out to be one, given his goal and the monstrous deeds he pulled to its accomplishment.
* {{Jerkass}}: Even his officers and colleagues can't stand him sometimes, those cold-blooded murders of innocents being one of the many reasons. He can be worse, if you happen to be Sima Yi.
** JerkassFacade: Rocky as their partnership might be, [[spoiler:Guo Jia genuinely wants to protect Sima Yi, as he appreciates Sima Yi's extraordinary talents and is well-aware that with regards to his capacity to be a "hero in peace", Sima Yi is NotSoDifferent from Cao Cao after all. And it's not a good idea to immediately get rid of the one person who can think on the same page as Zhuge Liang when Guo Jia himself is about to die and Zhuge Liang is teaming up with Pang Tong and Zhou Yu to kick Cao Cao's ass ''hard'' in Chibi.]]
* [[IHaveYourWife I Have Your Family]]: His strategy to keep Sima Yi in reins.
* [[IllGirl Ill Guy]]: with IncurableCoughOfDeath, [[spoiler:which finally claimed his life after 17 years in Cao Cao's service.]]
* MeaningfulName: His style name 'Fengxiao', meaning 'to uphold filial piety', resonates with his characterization at several points in the story. His first advice to Cao Cao (start a campaign on Xuzhou in the name of revenge for Cao Cao's father [[spoiler:who actually died of an illness]]) was a word play on this style name, and his animal motif - the crow - is a rare breed of bird with the habit of feeding its parents, which is therefore a loving and filial bird, and thus perfectly sums up the core of Guo Jia's existence - [[spoiler:a martyr who, sacrificing his name and health, dies serving the country.]]
* MoralEventHorizon: His first advice to Cao Cao was to massacre tens of thousand of people in the first Xuzhou campaign. Xiahou Dun called both him and Cao Cao out, and Xun Yu gets sore with him for a long time. [[spoiler:And it prompted an outraged Zhuge Liang into action.]]
** [[spoiler:He also ordered the murder of Liu Bei's firstborn with the intention of keeping Guan Yu from returning to Liu Bei's side out of shame. Even Cao Cao was somewhat unsettled.]]
* NecessarilyEvil: UpToEleven.
* OutGambitted: [[spoiler:By the combined efforts of Sima Yi and Zhuge Liang in volume 13.]]
* ThePlan: Two for Lu Bu, both occurred in the Xuzhou campaigns. Also the Battle of Guandu, which was basically a game of tit-for-tat between him and Yuan Fang. [[spoiler:He won.]]
* ProperlyParanoid: Regarding [[DragonWithAnAgenda Sima Yi]], which sparks an implicit antagonism between them.
* RefusalOfTheCall: At first, because he believed his illness would kill him before he could accomplish anything. He got over it after Jia Xu gave him a pep talk about how he should try to live his life to the fullest, instead of waiting it out.
* SecretTestOfCharacter: [[spoiler:The real nature of almost every dickish move he pulls on Sima Yi. He needs to know Sima Yi's (facade of) loyalty lasts as long as post-Chibi.]]
* ShootTheDog: He takes it upon himself to be the 'darkness' of Cao Cao and see to it that Cao Cao becomes the villain who conquers the world, leaving Xun Yu to be the 'light' of Cao Cao to set him up as the hero who saves the people, which means he will not hesitate to do this if it's required of him.
* ThanatosGambit: [[spoiler:The details are currently unknown, but it appears to concern nipping Sima Yi's usurpation in the buds and countering team Zhou Yu, Pang Tong and Zhuge Liang in Chibi.]]
* TheExtremistWasRight: Extreme and uncalled for his cruelty might be, Guo Jia still takes most of the credits for Cao Cao's two most illustrious victories. [[spoiler:He died a happy man after knowing the pacifist Xun Yu also admitted it.]]
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized
* TheUnfettered: WordOfGod says this is why out of the Eight, Guo Jia is the worst one to deal with.
* UndyingLoyalty: [[spoiler:So undying that he already planned several gambits to save Cao Cao's life in his future defeat at Chibi. And it's hinted that at least one of them would.]]
* UnusualEyebrows
* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: ''Any'' means. To give you an idea of the extremes he will go to - dude is not above genocide and infanticide.
* {{Workaholic}}
* YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness: To [[spoiler:Sima Yi]] after the Battle of Guandu. [[spoiler:But it turns out to be another, and this time final, SecretTestOfCharacter for Sima Yi.]]
* YourApprovalFillsMeWithShame: To prove that even Guo Jia has some qualms about fighting his former classmates to the death, he did not like it when Cao Cao commented that from an outsider's perspective, the fight between him, Xun Yu, Jia Xu and Yuan Fang (basically, an in-fighting between former classmates) in the Battle of Guandu was a delightful sight to behold.
* YourDaysAreNumbered
* ZeroApprovalGambit

!!Zhou Yu
[[quoteright:243:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/22-a_5449.jpg]]
-> ''"[[ArcWords Heaven is not dead]]. He is just forging a magnificent clan."''

The Fifth Genius. Of all the Geniuses to have made an appearance, Zhou Yu's goal strays the furthest from their common ideal: rather than striving to bring peace to the land, he pledges loyalty to his sworn brother, Sun Ce, and dedicates his genius to the resurrection of the fallen Sun clan [[spoiler:which may or may not imply his intentions to found the future Wu kingdom independent of Imperial Han]]. For this, he's disliked by the Seventh Genius Zhuge Liang, who likens him to Sima Yi, another man of staggering brilliance but without noble ambitions.

Zhou Yu's strength lies in troop deploying and counter-espionage, [[spoiler:the later of which was the basis for his ingenious scheme to turn Yuan Shu's men against each other, tremendously diminishing Yuan Shu's force]]. With his aids, Sun Ce was able to escape safely to the Eastern region and embark on his conquest to regain the old glory of his family. As of now, the Sun clan has almost completely conquered the Eastern land and joined the fray as a rapidly rising power.

* BadassBoast: Of being undefeatable in naval warfare. [[spoiler:The one time Jia Xu attempts to test it, Zhou Yu completely toasts him and his fleets.]]
* BadassBookworm: He's also an admiral, and is trained in combat.
* BadassLonghair
* BrainsAndBrawn: The brains to Sun Ce's brawn. Kind of zigzagged in this case, as Sun Ce being [[GeniusBruiser Sun]] [[MagnificentBastard Ce]], Zhou Yu even admits that sometimes he fails to catch up.
* IdenticalStranger: To Sima Yi, and it doesn't go unnoticed in-universe.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: With Sun Ce, his sworn brother.
* TheLancer: To Sun Ce.
* LongHairedPrettyboy
* MementoMacGuffin: [[spoiler:Sun Ce's halberd, which he now wields instead of his old sword.]]
* NotInThisForYourRevolution: His main motivation is helping his sworn brother, Sun Ce, rebuild the Sun clan and restore its rightful government of the Southern region. Needless to say, the patriotic Zhuge Liang doesn't approve of him anymore than he does Sima Yi.
* TheMole: [[spoiler: Played this once to help Sun Ce]].
* ThePlan: The "Rise of Sun Ce" arc.
* UnusualEyebrows

!!Pang Tong
[[quoteright:233:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/23-a_4153.JPG]]
-> ''"Strategy, as they say, [[GambitIndex amounts to only one type]]."''

The Sixth Genius. With his extraordinary power of devising chained strategems, he's hailed as the 'Fledgeling Phoenix' (鳯雛; Fèngchú), one of the two titles conferred on the best of the Geniuses only (the other being 'Crouching Dragon', conferred on the Seventh Zhuge Liang). Regardings his principles, Pang Tong is considered a ruthless utilitarian whom even Jia Xu considers himself inferior to. He's close friend with Zhuge Liang, who shares his dream of restoring the era of Imperial Han and yet seems to advocate more benevolent methods. Thus, people believe that he favors Liu Bei [[spoiler:but he actually supports Liu Chong, a more powerful warlord and also related to the Imperial family]]. [[spoiler:The chain stratagem he sets up upon joining Liu Chong, which involves several prominent warlords in a surprise all-out extermination of Cao Cao's faction, soon pushes Cao Cao into deadly predicaments and nearly claims his life. This also brought about the demise of the Sima clan, marking one of the most significant plot development in the story.]] [[spoiler:After Liu Chong was assassinated by Sima Yi]], as of now he prefers to stay out of the power struggle and observe the going-ons. [[spoiler:Still, Liu Chong's death and a private talk with Liu Bei made him change his opinion, and he seems to support Liu Bei now.]]

* AwakeningTheSleepingGiant: The most spectacular example to date, bordering on plot-triggering. [[spoiler:Until Pang Tong comes his way and plots the sacrifice of Sima Yi's family, Sima Yi didn't even think about joining Cao Cao's team.]]
* BlackEyesOfEvil: WordOfGod says it's only for scary effects, though.
* ChekhovsSkill: The one he uses to solve Dong Zhuo's puzzle and earns the title of Fledgeling Phoenix, by connecting several characters from a thousand meaningless ones to form a sentence. [[spoiler:It speaks a lot of his talent for uniting warlords with independent motives into a mighty force against Cao Cao.]]
** That, and now with the confirmed fact that he's one hell of a silver-tongued manipulative bastard who can turn fire-forged allies against each other, you can see where it's going for Cao Cao in Chibi.
* ChekhovsClassroom: A lecture on the way of strategy, which he used to repeat for three days and none of his students understood. [[spoiler: Later they take it to heart, and act accordingly to aid him in a grand scheme of killing Cao Cao and undermining the influence of his faction.]]
* CoolTeacher: [[spoiler: He's one for a very good reason.]]
* CreepyGood: With heavy emphasis on creepy, as in "creepy-looking" - even Jia Xu thinks Pang Tong's brains is not his only frightening asset. Pang Tong himself knows this too.
* EnemyMine: He doesn't think the least bit favorably of dissidents like the Sun clan, but still joins force with them because he hates Cao Cao even more.
* FacialMarkings
* {{Foreshadowing}}: A lot, for the Battle of Chi Bi.
* HistoricalBeautyUpdate: Historically he's an ugly guy, but in Ravages of Time he is nothing short of the coolest looking of the Eight Geniuses.
* IFightForTheStrongestSide: Why he [[spoiler:picked Liu Chong over Liu Bei]], and allies with the Sun clan - the one faction left with any chance of opposing Cao Cao at all - in the Chibi arc.
* InsufferableGenius: Is one to his students, mostly due to the way he teaches them and how none of them can understand anything he says. [[spoiler: Subverted, later he successfully unites their factions under one goal: to kill Cao Cao, and none of them has any apprehension or hesitation in following his advices to the letter.]]
* NiceJobFixingItVillain: [[spoiler:His scheme triggered the ruins of Sima clan, which gives Sima Yi the incentive he needs to stop being BrilliantButLazy and join Cao Cao's faction, what Pang Tong wants to avoid in the first place.]]
* ThePlan: Look at what he does to Cao Cao on his debut. You do ''not'' want to mess with this guy.
* RedBaron: "Fledgling Phoenix".
* TheCakeIsALie:[[spoiler: He persuaded Sima Yi, Liaoyuan Huo and (indirectly, through Lu Bu) Xiao Meng to start a mutiny in Cao Cao's home base and assassinate him to put an end to Cao Cao's insatiable extortion of the Sima clan's money. Turned out he couldn't care less for the mission's success and actually meant for it to be the bait for a bigger divide-and-conquer strategy attempted on the Cao's army.]]
* ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill: The scope of that gamebit pileup he heapt on Cao Cao is ''unbelievable''. [[spoiler:Long story short, he manipulated two estranged members of the Crippled Legions (an assassin squad with a reputed 100% success rate) into a mission to assassinate Cao Cao. Then he sicced a horde of powerful warlords including Zhang Xiu, Lu Bu, Liu Biao, Liu Chong, Yuan Shu (each of them a formidable opponent to Cao Cao in their own rights) and several minor ones on Cao Cao's isolated troops. For good measures, he persuaded the Sima clan to cut off the ration supply (by threatening to blame said assassination attempts by the Crippled Legion members on them) and raised a mutiny in Cao Cao's home base. It was calculated so that whichever failed would not harm the success probability of another, and if all failed, Cao Cao's main force would have dwindled enough so that Pang Tong's lord, Liu Chong, could take on him evenly.]] It took Cao Cao's incredible good lucks and the combined efforts of his best generals to keep him alive, then Xun Yu, Guo Jia, Cheng Yu have to step into the picture to keep the damages down and break the stratagem. And everything is only over when [[spoiler:Sima Yi came back from near death to deliver the final blow to Pang Tong's gambit by assassinating Liu Chong.]]
* WhatAnIdiot: Said this almost word-for-word about Liu Bei, who (prior to [[TookALevelInJerkass taking a level in jerkass]]) was naive enough to jump at the chance to carry out the orders of the Emperor (at that point already a puppet on Cao Cao's strings) against a much stronger Yuan Shu. [[spoiler:He changes his mind somewhat, after meeting Liu Bei in person and seeing for himself that Liu Bei's kindness actually serves a bigger purpose.]]
* WickedCultured: Quotes Confucius incessantly.

!!Zhuge Liang
[[quoteright:234:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/zhugeliang_RoT_8743.jpg]]
-> ''"[[UndyingLoyalty Loyalty]] [[{{Foreshadowing}} until death]]."''

The Seventh Genius, holder of the prized title "Crouching Dragon" and supposedly the best of the Eights. He's shown to be an upright individual who places great ethical value in loyalty and patriotism, and holds like-minded men like Liu Bei in very high regards. His stated goal is to restore the rule of Han, which he sees as an exemplary act of anti-segregation made for the sake of future generations. Due to his dissatisfaction with the way selfish warlords run the country with civil wars, he has declined to choose a master and opted to live as a reclused teacher in Shuijing's military school. [[spoiler:As of recent chapters, he has been convinced to choose Liu Bei and is working for him now.]]

* TheAce
* CassandraTruth: In the first Dong Zhuo arc, he was the first of the Eight to suspect that Dong Zhuo was secretly preparing to leave the capital and had to solve a puzzle to prove it to everyone. With the exception of Sima Yi (who also arrived at the same conclusion some time prior), everyone dismissed him. Only Yuan Fang believed him and managed to alter his plan for the Luoyang hostage rescue operation just in time.
* TheDreaded: He's implied to be the best of the Eights way before he gets involved in anything big, and his winning the title of Dragon is only an icing on the cake. Small wonders the first thing that Guo Jia and Jia Xu try during the preparation stage for Chibi showdown is making sure he cannot get involved, even via killing him if necessary.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: For his future career -
** Despite excelling in many subjects, he's allegedly ''not'' as good at evaluating people as his upperclassmen Xun Yu and Guo Jia.
** It's said that only two of the Eight Geniuses study and prefer the Feng Hou formation to Sun Tzu's. One is Yuan Fang, and you get no points guessing who the other is.
** And of course, "loyalty until death".
* HeroicBSOD: In volume 12, when he finds the mountains of corpses Guo Jia and Cao Cao left behind their army's rampage. Then he gets another in volume 22, when he watches a battle and feels let down with the state of the country. It prompts his retirement to the school of Water-Mirror to continue teaching, and delays choosing a lord. [[spoiler:In recent volumes, he has gotten over it, and has declared Liu Bei his lord.]]
* JerkassHasAPoint: During said HeroicBSOD in volume 22, he recalls Sima Yi's theory of aiding the wicked strong to powers and overthrowing him, which will spare the people of years of wars and power struggles, and reluctantly finds it more reasonable than the chaos ensuing before him.
* LawfulGood: Used to be both lawful and good, now he's just good.
* LetNoCrisisGoToWaste: [[spoiler: He takes advantage of Jingzhou's political struggle to advance Liu Bei's status.]]
* RedBaron: "Crouching Dragon".
* RivalsTeamUp: With [[spoiler:Sima Yi]] in volume 13 to stop Guo Jia's total annihilation of Xuzhou's last line of defense. They weren't rival at any point before this, but Zhuge Liang already disliked the guy enough.
* StrangeMindsThinkAlike: To Sima Yi in several occasions.
* SymbolMotifClothing: His robe is strewn with pattern resembling dragon scales.
* TheCallKnowsWhereYouLive: Well, [[spoiler:Liaoyuan Huo]] does have good tracking skills..
* TheFaceless: Fans have been so longing to see what he looks like since volume 3, his unmasking has achieved a memetic level of inducing manic rage and speculations. ''Fourty-four'' volumes later, the author finally shows mercy.
* TookALevelInJerkass: By the beginning of Chibi, his mask is not the only possession of his righteous self that he has gotten rid of. [[spoiler:Orchestrating Guo Jia's death with Sima Yi and pulling the strings in the heir conflict within Jingzhou's Liu clan are but the tip of the iceberg.]]
* UndyingLoyalty: One of the many virtues he advocates.

!! The Eighth Genius

The last of the Eight Genius. There has been much debate over who is the last Genius, and theory abounds. One of the fan theories is crushed when [[spoiler: Lu Xun, unmasked, appears to save Sima Yi and goes on to join the Sun clan]]. Other possible favourite candidates are Wei Yan, Fa Zheng, Xu Shu or Lu Su. [[spoiler:As of chapter 376, with Xu Shu's appearance as Zhuge Liang's henchmen, another theory is jossed.]]

* HeWhoMustNotBeSeen: He's never been revealed to the readers without the company of at least one other Genius, in mask and all, so it's pretty much impossible to tell which one is him, much less who he is. And note that as far as we can tell, he's only appreared three times in 44 volumes.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Cao faction]]
Tropes associated with Cao Cao's faction:

* AnAxeToGrind: Xu Huang and Xu Chu.
* BadassArmy: Universally recognized as ''the'' badass army.
* BadassCrew: Cao Cao's advisors include, among other talents, ''three'' of the Eight Geniuses, [[spoiler: later joined by ''Sima Yi'']]. His generals: [[BadassFamily many from his own family]], [[BadassFamily the Xiahou brothers]], [[TheBigGuy Xu Chu]], [[ImplacableMan Dian Wei]], [[BadassNormal Li Dian]], [[TheSmartGuy Yu Jin]], and later [[spoiler: Zhang Liao]] are either strong like monsters, or extremely well-rounded physically and mentally.
* BewareTheQuietOnes: Xu Chu, and not just because he is [[MadeOfIron Xu]] [[ImplacableMan Chu]]. [[spoiler:Unbeknowst to Cao Cao, Sima Yi and the readers, this guy has been silently plotting revenge against Sima clan with his older brother all along. When they come out with it in volume 24, it was.. a jaw-dropping [[TheReveal twist]], to say the least.]]
* ChekhovsGunman: The leader of the Crippled Legion succeeding Liaoyuan Huo, who appears in volume 22 [[spoiler:and is Xu Ding, Xu Chu's older brother, with as much desire for revenge as his little brother.]]
* DefectorFromDecadence: Xu Huang.
* DualWielding: Dian Wei.
* EyepatchOfPower: [[spoiler: Xiahou Dun]], not surprisingly for those who read the novel.
* EyeScream: [[spoiler:Xiahou Dun got an arrow to his prized left eye. He ''[[{{Squick}} pulls the arrow out with the eyeball stuck to it]]''. He ''eats the eyeball''. [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome And then his asskicking power shoots up.]]]]
* GeniusBruiser: Yu Jin.
* GlowingEyesOfDoom: Xu Chu.
* FaceHeelTurn: [[spoiler:The Qingzhou troops, formerly Yellow Turban soldiers, turn on Cao Cao under Zuo Ci's influence in the battle against Yuan clan.]]
* ParentalSubstitute: Cao Cao to Xu Chu, who respects him so much he thinks of him like his father [[spoiler:who is Xu Lin.]]
* PreAssKickingOneLiner: '''''MY LORD IS CALLING ME.''''' Woe befalls whoever doesn't run away from Dian Wei after that line.
* OneManArmy: Most if not all of Cao Cao's generals have shown this trait.
* SuperSenses: Xiahou Dun's left eye, which can see for miles. [[spoiler: He loses it in the Xiapi campaign at Xiao Meng's hands.]]
* SuperStrength: Xiahou Dun, who can ''throw a lance to the top of a mountain''. And since he's got that left eye, don't expect him to miss. Ever.
* SuperToughness: Xu Chu and Dian Wei.
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: [[spoiler:Xu Ding to the Sima clan in volume 25.]]
* RunningGag: "My Lord, are you training troops?"
* UndyingLoyalty: Dian Wei takes this trope UpToEleven. [[spoiler:Even when ''he's cut into two'', ''he still bellows to his leg to get up and kill the enemy together''. They have to stab him in the neck to shut him up.]]
-->[[spoiler: '''Dian Wei:''']] [[spoiler: Legs! Get up! Legs! You traitors! Did you forget… why you live?]]
* TheBerserker: Xu Chu ([[BerserkButton if the subject of his revenge is brought up]]) and Dian Wei, but ''especially'' [[ImplacableMan Dian]] [[LikeABadassOutOfHell Wei]], [[spoiler: who tries to kill his enemy despite [[HalfTheManHeUsedToBe being cut into two]]]]. Xiahou Dun can be this when he's too caught up in the bloodlust of the fight.
* TrainingFromHell: [[spoiler:The entire 1st Xuzhou campaign.]]
* TookALevelInBadass
* WouldHurtAChild: ''Goddamn it'', Xu Chu.
* YouKilledMyFather: Xu Chu [[spoiler:and his older brother Xu Ding]] to [[spoiler:Liaoyuan Huo and the entire Sima clan.]]

!!Cao Cao
[[quoteright:232:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/45-000_4666.jpg]]
-> ''"The villain in chaos, the hero in peace."''

The leader of Cao clan. He started out as a vanguard of the Guandong Alliance and was one of the first to strike at Dong Zhuo (the only other was Sun Jian). The battle was his first crippling defeat and nearly cost him his entire army as well as the future of his faction, but as things turned out, it was Cao Cao's victory in the long term: through his bold initiative, he struck men of talents - among them three of the famous Eight Geniuses - as a patriot of great integrity and a lord worthy of their service. When Xun Yu and Guo Jia take turn joining his side, their genius and Cao Cao's own flair for strategic risk-taking come together and jointly result in sequence of brilliant schemes, rebuilding his army from scratch and quickly expanding his territory.

Cao Cao's gradual rise in and of itself is arguably a series of escalating CrowningMomentOfAwesome in a series full of them. From a minor character in the grand scheme of things who was one step away from losing his life on behalf of conventional idealism, he has developed into a protagonist characterized by Machiavellian traits, shedding most of his early scruples and the near-death, near-total-defeat situations he survives only end up hardening his resolve. So far, the victories that define his career are [[spoiler:the defeat and murder of Lu Bu and Yuan Shu, the capture of the young Emperor]] and, as of recent volumes, [[spoiler:the defeat of the all-powerful Yuan clan.]]

* {{AntiHero}}: Progresses from Type I to Type III, and shows shades of Type IV at his worst.
* BadassBookworm: He's more proficient in utilizing Sun Tzu's Art of War than Guo Jia or the Sun clan (supposedly Sun Tzu's descendants), and Yuan Fang can testify to it.
* BadassMustache
* BreakTheHaughty: Unless that's what he wants you to think.
* BullyingADragon: Extorts money from Sima clan, all the while knowing very well that they have a deadly squad of assassin under their thumb and a [[TheChessmaster Chessmaster]] on par with his three Geniuses, and on top of that ''are well-known for killing extortionists''? Bad idea, but kinda averted in that [[spoiler:the whole business about the Sima mutiny and sending the Crippled Legion's assassins after him was not Sima Yi's idea, but Pang Tong's]]. [[{{Futureshadowing}} It will eventually be played straight]] with [[spoiler:his massacre of Sima clan]], though.
* CreateYourOwnVillain: He instructs two wealthy merchant clans to finance the dissolved, destitute Sun clan's quest to pacify the Eastern region and gives them Imperial permission. He takes in a defeated Liu Bei and grants him resources to gain a political ally in the court. Eventually, the both of them outgrows what he initially expects and turns around to oppose him.
** The final nail in the coffin comes when he [[spoiler:murders Sima Yi's family]] yet lets Sima Yi live, effectively dooming his descendants.
* DarkMessiah
* DirtyOldMan: [[TheStoic Xu Chu]] even [[RunningGag makes jokes on it]].
* EvilChancellor: Currently holds this place in the court. However, it's also noted that he averts ''like hell'' some of the bad stuffs usually associated with being this; for example, he's quite beloved by the people and many Imperialist talents are willing to serve him.
* FaceHeelTurn: Guo Jia's arrival in volume 10 initiates one for him.
* FreudianExcuse: It's implied that the cruel persecution he endures in his younger years as a foster child of an eunuch family is part of the driving force that got him where he is today.
* HeroWithBadPublicity: Might be this or a VillainWithGoodPublicity, depending on who you ask - his vassals or his enemies.
* {{Jerkass}}
* LargeHam: He has his moments.
* LuckyBastard: To quote Jia Xu, Xiao Meng and many others - this guy is assisted by the wills of Heaven.
* ItsPersonal: His excuse for attacking Xuzhou is to avenge his father against the Governor of Xuzhou, whom he accused of a rob-and-murder plot. [[spoiler:The old man actually died a natural death, and the whole thing is Guo Jia's idea.]]
* MagneticHero
* MagnificentBastard
* MoralEventHorizon: The massacre of a hundred thousand civilians during his first Xuzhou campaign.
* OvershadowedByAwesome: Averted, as he's no less of a MagnificentBastard than the three Geniuses serving him and only lacks their flair for elaborate {{plan}}s. Shuijing, their teacher, even comments that much of their successes can be attributed to his leadership skills. The aversion truly takes it to the top in the Battle of Guandu, [[spoiler:when he fights Yuan Fang's Feng-hou Eight Formation Diagram evenly with an improved version of Sun Tzu's formation, whereas Guo Jia spectacularly lost to it before.]]
* PayEvilUntoEvil: His rationale behind the whole "villain in war, able ruler in peace" front. YMMV on how much of it is his patriotism speaking and how much of it is his ambition to be Emperor trying to give a good excuse.
* SelfMadeMan: The man who, with his genius, has single-handedly built a glorious politics and military career in the name of Cao, a family which produced [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cao_Teng a famous eunuch]] and was initially of low social standing among the warlords due to the unpopularity of eunuches at that time. His lineage becomes a minor, but important, plot point during the climax of a story arc [[spoiler:where it's exploited by Sima Yi and Jia Kui to force him to execute Xiao Meng prematurely in order to appease the Qingzhou troops who were driven by eunuch-persecuting mob mentality]].
* StrawHypocrite: He can go on and on about how he controls court affairs just to aid the young Emperor, everyone knows he has bigger ambitions.
* TheManBehindTheMan
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: To Dong Cheng and Sun Ce, [[BreakTheHaughty none of whom take it well]].
** The eulogy he delivers [[spoiler:with [[DecapitationPresentation Yuan Tan's head]]]] before [[spoiler:Yuan Shao's grave]] is another. "Respect for the dead" is apparently an alien phrase to Cao Cao.
* TraumaCongaLine: Hits it off in volume 14 and 24.
* TookALevelInJerkass
* WellIntentionedExtremist: Again, only if you think he's acting for the good of the country and not his ambition as he claims.
* YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness: [[spoiler:To the Sima clan in volume 25.]]
* ZeroApprovalGambit
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Liu faction]]

!!Liu Bei

* HundredPercentAdorationRating
* AFatherToHisMen: ...but not much to his own child, whom he considers of lesser importance than his sworn brothers.
* ArmorPiercingQuestion: "Are you satisfied... with dying like this?"
* BareYourMidriff
* BewareTheNiceOnes
* BlueBlood: Claims to have it. Not everyone believes him at first, but eventually nobody cares.
* BreakThemByTalking: At the White Gate Tower, and that should be enough hint as to whom this speech was directed at.
* ButtMonkey: As in the novel, he keeps losing to Cao Cao and Lu Bu over and over again. But each time he loses, his prestige increases and his reputation as a loyal Han follower and a righteous man shoots up. However, constantly being on the TraumaCongaLine results in his gradual development into [[KnightInSourArmor a much more cynical, calculating man]].
* ChewingTheScenery: Pretty much how he delivers said ArmorPiercingQuestion to Zhang Liao.
* CruelToBeKind: Debuts by pretending to be a henchman of Dong Zhuo who robs people of their fortune, so that they would hate Dong Zhuo, and in return welcome the anti-Dong coalition as their saviors -- which so touched the coalition soldiers that they forgot ''their'' own plan to loot the city.
* {{Determinator}}
* GlowingEyesOfDoom: [[spoiler:When he persuades Zhang Liao to surrender to Cao Cao and thus saves his life.]]
* GoodIsDumb: He gets over it.
* TheEmpath: ''Very'' good at discerning the personality and the wants and desires of people he come across.
* HonorBeforeReason: Then again, he has a good reason to put his honor first. He knows that his reputation is about the only thing he has going for him, so most of his decisions are based on how to polish it, not sacrifice it.
* MagneticHero: His charisma points are off the charts, topping even Cao Cao.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: People think he's a patriotic idiot. Cao Cao knows better.
* PowerTrio: The Id.
* SlaveToPR: Is frequently accused of this by his (more practical) subordinates.
* StartOfDarkness: After the loss of Xiapi to Lu Bu, although [[spoiler:it had actually been engineered by Zhang Fei to minimize casualties to Liu Bei's force]]:
-->'''Liu Bei:''' Lu Bu took Xiapi from Xiaopei... [[spoiler:why can't I? Fake a truce, then pay him back when we can!]]
* TheMessiah: And lately, has been showing traits of a DarkMessiah. Not that the populace adoring him notice.
* TookALevelInJerkass
* WideEyedIdealist [[spoiler:No Longer]]

!!Guan Yu

* {{Badass}}
* HonorBeforeReason
* LawfulGood: Irrefutably so.
* OneManArmy: On the same level with Lu Bu.
* PowerTrio: The Ego.
* ThePaladin

!!Zhang Fei

* {{Badass}}
* CulturedWarrior: His other identity is a renowned artist, and the Eight Geniuses' teacher is a fan of his. Who could have known?
* FacialMarkings: And they look even weirder than Pang Tong's. He's even nicknamed 'Painted-Face Zhang Fei'.
* GeniusBruiser
* [[BeautifulAllAlong Handsome All Along]]: Zhang Fei's unpainted face is yet to be seen as he always covers his face when he doesn't have all those painted tattoos, but from what we can see he does not look half bad.
* ObfuscatingStupidity
* OneManArmy: Fights Lu Bu to a standstill twice. Five of Cao Cao's best generals (together) fail to manage it even once.
* PowerTrio: The Superego.

!!Xu Shu

Zhuge Liang's friend and confidante. At Zhuge Liang's request, he arrives in Jingzhou to side with Liu Bei when the latter gets involved in the power struggle between Liu Biao's two sons, Liu Qi and Liu Cong.

* BewareTheNiceOnes
* WoundedGazelleGambit: [[spoiler:He orchestrated the incident at River Tan to expose Cai Mao's scheme to get rid of Liu Bei in front of Jingzhou's officials.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Lu faction]]
Tropes associated with Lu Bu's faction:

* BadassArmy: The Chargers, led by [[ColonelBadass Gao Shun]].
* BadassCrew: Gao Shun and Zhang Liao.
* BrainsAndBrawn: Chen Gong and Lu Bu.
* CoolOldGuy: Chen Gong. So cool even Cao Cao's three Geniuses respect him,[[spoiler: and would have been honored to have him on their sides had he not choosen dying instead of joining Cao Cao.]]
* CoolTeacher: Chen Gong to many younger advisors. Also Cao Xing, the leading archer, to [[spoiler:Xiao Meng]].
* DespairEventHorizon: Quite a lot, considering the amounts of ass-kicking dealt to them in the tenth volume by Jia Xu and in later volumes by Cao Cao. [[spoiler:The crowning moment of despair occurs during the Xiapi campaign, when they fell for Guo Jia's trap and are besieged on all sides by flood, sicknesses, rapidly declining food rations, being cut off from other troops, and there were no longer any allies they could count on. Even those who had followed Lu Bu since the beginning decided against staying with him on this sinking boat and defected to Cao Cao.]]
* [[spoiler: DyingMomentOfAwesome]]: [[spoiler: Chen Gong and Gao Shun]]. The former [[FaceDeathWithDignity faced death with sheer badass dignity]], and the latter charged into a horde of enemy while ''paraplegic'' to rescue his master, and [[spoiler:refused to die until the leader of the opposing charge, Cao Chun, delivered the mercy kill.]]
** In [[spoiler:Chen Gong]]'s case, he manages to publicly coerce Cao Cao into taking care of [[spoiler:Chen Gong]]'s relatives after [[spoiler:his execution]], counsel [[spoiler:other captives facing execution]], and explain concisely why [[spoiler:he won't submit and live -- Cao Cao Cao isn't ''worse'' than Lu Bu, he's ''just as bad'']]. For all of these, Xiahou Dun begs him to reconsider so that he might live, Guo Jia and Jia Xu salute him ([[MaryTzu two of the Eight Geniuses]] saluting their "inferior"), and Cao Cao salutes and sheds a ManlyTear for him.
--->'''The chapter's conclusion:''' After that, Cao Cao tended to [[spoiler:Chen Gong]]'s mother until her death, and he also found a husband for the daughter. He still grieves whenever he is reminded of [[spoiler:Chen Gong]].
* FoeTossingCharge: Lu Bu (anytime he goes full God of War mode into battle), Gao Shun (it's what he does) and Zhang Liao (after he [[TookALevelInBadass takes his level(s) in badass]]).
* HopelessSuitor: Qin Yi Lu to Xiao Meng in the novel, although he [[CannotSpitItOut never says it out loud]].
* MoralityPet: Lu Bu's daughter is one to him. Xiao Meng might be another, but the novel is more obvious about this.
* IKnowYouKnowIKnow: Many of Chen Gong's strategies can be summed up into this, especially during [[spoiler:Lu Bu's takeover of Xuzhou.]]
* [[spoiler:KillTheCutie]]: [[spoiler:Poor Lu Bu's daughter.]]
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: [[spoiler: Lu Bu fell for Sima Yi's ruse and caused the entire disaster of flooding Xiapi by sending away Gao Shun, who was guarding the river on Chen Gong's order.]]
* ScrewThisImOuttaHere: [[spoiler:The sentiment of many Lu Bu's soldiers, when the situation in Xiapi turned hopeless.]]
* TheChessmaster: Lu Bu, and after Chen Gong joins him, only Chen Gong.
* UndyingLoyalty: [[spoiler:Gao Shun.]]

!!Lu Bu
[[quoteright:220:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/LuBu_RoT_9297.jpg]]
->''Dong Zhuo: "A scholar doesn't know how to fight; a warrior doesn't know how to write. One who can both write and fight is rare. Who do you reckon Lu Bu is?"''
->''Xu Lin: "It is said among soldiers - "Among horses, Red Hare is the fastest. Among men, Lu Bu is the strongest". But I reckon that Lu Bu is not human at all!"''

The WarGod of the series, an indomitable fighter and a capable strategist. Ambitious and power hungry, he seeks to murder Dong Zhuo for power, just as he did to his previous foster-father. [[spoiler:He succeeds, but soon finds himself a foe to the Third Genius Jia Xu and loses to his schemes]]. After that he tries to become a dominant power in northern China with the help of his advisor Chen Gong.

[[spoiler:Chen Gong got OutGambitted during the battle of Xia Pi, and Lu Bu was captured and finally executed.]]

* AintTooProudToBeg: If it means he can save his own hide and get another chance to start anew, then yes, unashamedly.
* '''{{Badass}}''': Repeat- '''''[[PunctuatedForEmphasis HE. IS. LU. BU.]]'''''
** AGodAmI: ''"[[NoHoldsBarredBeatdown I am the God of War!]] [[CurbStompBattle A god among men!!]]"''
** AsskickingEqualsAuthority
** AuthorityEqualsAsskicking
** BreakTheBadass
** CurbStompBattle and NoHoldsBarredBeatdown: Thy names are "Lu Bu vs. everyone".
** CoolHorse: A ''badass'' horse, in fact. "Red Hare among horses, Lu Bu among men" indeed.
** [[spoiler: DyingMomentOfAwesome]]: [[spoiler: It takes three of Cao Cao's best generals (one of them the giant Xu Chu) to asphyxiate him. Eventually, Xiahou Dun has to behead Lu Bu to kill him off for real.]]
** FoeTossingCharge: In your face, Yuan Shu.
** FourStarBadass
** LeeroyJenkins: He doesn't invoke this trope very often, though.
** LivingLegend
** OffscreenMomentOfAwesome: How he earned the title "God of War" in the first place. Another is his very first battle against the Guandong alliance, in which it's said that he defeated ''60 great generals and 100,000 soldiers'' with merely a handful men on his side.
** PersonOfMassDestruction
** RatedMForManly
** RedBaron: Deservingly, "God of War".
** SuperStrength: Lu Bu has the look, size and muscle of an average OneManArmy, but he can '''swing [[TheBigGuy Xu Chu]] around''' on his shoulders, '''carry [[TheBigGuy Ji Ling]] on one arm''', then throw the poor guy down and proceed to mop the floor with him.
** SuperToughness: Arrows, swords and poison do harm him, but if you think they can stop him for a second from beating you to a pulp, think again. Or better yet, just run.
** '''''WorldsStrongestMan''''': The first and foremost OneManArmy of this era. If you are a latecomer in this field like Guan Yu, Zhang Fei or Sun Ce, expect to be judged by the standards he has set. In a real fight, as long as he doesn't engage in a fight with Guan Yu, Zhang Fei (both [[OneManArmy One-Man-Armies]] on his level) and 'undead' monsters like Liaoyuan Huo or Dian Wei, Lu Bu is the only fighter who never, ever fails to utterly curb-stomp his opponents, whether they are Yuan Shu's thousand-soldiered army, or a team of up to five of Cao Cao's best generals with his sheer strength, skills and badassery.
* BitchInSheepsClothing: When he serves in Dong Zhuo's army, he manages to win the hearts of men all over. Neither Dong Zhuo nor his wiseguy team can do anything about it,''despite knowing Lu Bu's true colors''.
* BodyDouble: He has dozens of them, either for faking his presence (which is often enough to hold off the enemy) when he's needed elsewhere or faking his deaths so that he can get away.
* ButtMonkey: And the instigators of his constant falls are Cao Cao, Sima Yi and Jia Xu, then Guo Jia [[spoiler:for his final downfall]].
* CallBack: See Main page.
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder
* DespairEventHorizon: [[spoiler: The sight of his beloved daughter being cut in half by Xu Chu and trampled to death under horse' feet during a failed siege breakout was a particularly ''gut-wrenching'' one for Lu Bu. Then he went on full berserk mode and took out all of his opponents (who are the Xiahou brothers, Xu Chu, Xu Huang, Han Hao,.. yeah, kind of the cream of the crops in Cao Cao's entire army).]]
* [[spoiler:FaceDeathWithDignity]]: [[spoiler:Completely averted; in his execution Lu Bu begged for his life and humbled himself to the point of self-humiliation to Cao Cao's mooks. Then the aversion is subverted: Cao Cao publicly declared that Lu Bu knew the value of life - compared to Cao Cao's own "shallow" men - and thus was willing to stake his superficial pride for it, and praised Lu Bu for his courage. Upon hearing this, Lu Bu sobered up immediately for his DyingMomentOfAwesome.]]
--> '''Cao Cao:''' What good is reputation if you are dead? A true hero understands that one can accomplish much more by staying alive. In the past we had Gou Jian surviving as a peasant, and today we have [[spoiler:Lu Bu begging for his life]]. Your courage surpasses all the shallow men here. It surpasses the reputation which they hold dearer than life. Of all the heroes (in the world), who is more fearless than you on the battlefield? And who more unafraid of death? And of all the heroes, who dares to trample on their pride like you have? [[spoiler:God of War, Lu Bu]], you truly embody the essence of [[GeniusBruiser brains and brawn]].
---> Cao Cao speech and how Lu Bu acted was actually a call back to what Lu Bu said to Cao Cao in the battle of Xia Pi when Lu Bu had Cao Cao cornered.
* FakingTheDead: One of his most favourite tactics.
* GraspTheSun: [[spoiler:In his dying moment, whereby he got the epiphany of the final victor of this war - a fiery phoenix, aka Sima Yi.]]
* HoistByHisOwnPetard
* HonorBeforeReason: [[YouShouldKnowThisAlready Not surprisingly]], an averted trope here. [[spoiler:Even averted in his last moments]].
* LaserGuidedKarma: Every traitorous deed that Lu Bu ever does will eventually come back to bite him in the ass, no exception.
** The whole deal with overthrowing Dong Zhuo, as it turned out, sent at least three mortal enemies hot on his heels, all of whom would later contribute to his downfall(s). [[spoiler:He was dealt three crippling defeats by the ThanatosGambit of Jia Xu, Li Ru's oath brother and Dong Zhuo's advisor; his daughter was killed by Xu Chu, the son of Xu Lin whose death he had indirectly caused (by sending Xu Chu away right at the moment the Crippled Legion was targeting him); and finally he was captured at the White Gate Tower due to the betrayal of Hou Cheng, Song Xian and Wei Xu, who were former subordinates of Dong Zhuo's general Hua Xiong, whom Zhang Liao assassinated on his orders.]]
** Then the business with robbing Liu Bei, who was sheltering him, of Xuzhou by allying with Liu Bei's enemy Yuan Shu. [[spoiler:At the White Gate Tower execution ground, Liu Bei returned the favor by convincing Cao Cao to kill Lu Bu instead of sparing his life.]]
* MadnessMantra: [[spoiler:"It doesn't hurt. It doesn't hurt. '''''[[RoaringRampageOfRevenge IT DOESN'T HURT]].'''''"]]
* MeaningfulEcho: "No pain. No pain at all." - what he said to his daughter, [[spoiler:which were her last words to him when she died]], then repeated several times by him in poignant moments.
* MoralEventHorizon: Is seen by others as having crossed it a long time ago [[spoiler:when he betrayed and killed his two foster fathers Ding Yuan and Dong Zhuo.]]
* OhCrap: The crowning ones are courtesy of said guys who makes a ButtMonkey out of him for their breakfast -
** The first sign that his streak of outgambitting other has ended comes when [[spoiler:Sima Yi threatened him with Dong Zhuo's edict to get his team out of Chang'an safely and warn Lu Bu's hands off his family's business at the same time.]]
** In Chang'an arc [[spoiler:when he realized Niu Fu's death was a bait by Jia Xu.]] Again, in the same arc [[spoiler:when he fell for Dong Yue's death, ''again'' a bait by Jia Xu, and that Sima Yi indirectly lent a hand by leaving the edict behind for Jia Xu's taking.]]
** In Puyang [[spoiler:when the Yellow Turban troops turned on him.]]
** In Xiapi [[spoiler:when Chen Gong hammered it home that Sima Yi had duped him. For the second time.]]
* PapaWolf: For a guy who has betrayed two foster fathers, he loves his little daughter a lot.
* PermaStubble
* PetTheDog: Lu Bu can, and will, abandon the useless mooks to save his own skin, but it doesn't mean he will leave behind his closest companions without a fight.
** Again - [[EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas Even Lu Bu loves his daughter]]. Sob.
** He risks it to save [[spoiler:Gao Shun]] after their botched siege on Cao Cao's camp while he himself is being hotly pursued, and his distressed reaction to [[spoiler:Gao Shun's death at Cao Chun's hands]] also tells a lot.
** He truly appreciates Chen Gong's service and addresses the old man on equal terms, which is why Chen Gong likes to be by his side better than joining the court or serving Cao Cao. Their final talk, depressing as it was, was another proof of their strong friendship - [[spoiler:Chen Gong insisted on staying behind to cover for Lu Bu's escape and apologized for having failed him so many times, while Lu Bu entreated that they should leave together. Soon after, they were both captured by the three traitors Song Xian, Wei Xu and Hou Cheng.]]
* ShipTease: With Xiao Meng.
* TheBerserker: [[spoiler:He thoroughly curbstomped the best five generals of Cao Cao after his daughter was killed before his eyes.]]
* TheStarscream
* TooDumbToLive: For all his wits, Lu Bu never seems to learn that Jia Xu's and Sima Yi's words are ''not'' to be trusted under any circumstances.
* WhatTheHellHero: Zhang Liao wants to have a word with the way Lu Bu treats his brothers-in-arms.

!!Zhang Liao
[[quoteright:218:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/38-a_6800.gif]]

* {{AntiVillain}}: Type IV.
* AFatherToHisMen: Unlike Lu Bu, he cares a lot for his subordinates, and frequently risks his life to guard their escape routes instead of the other way around. [[spoiler: When many of them were beheaded after Cao Cao defeats Lu Bu, he even disobeyed orders to stay behind and recover their remains. Yuan Tan's army came charging through ? He beat the hell out of them.]]
* '''{{Badass}}''': Liaoyuan Huo's equal.
** BadassBoast and PreAsskickingOneLiner: "No one has ever passed the range of my swords".
** DualWielding
** FoeTossingCharge
** FourStarBadass
** FutureBadass: [[spoiler:''20 years later, this man Zhang Liao... with a hundred men by his side, defeated Sun Quan's 100,000 soldiers in the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hefei_(208) Battle of Hefei]]. His name was celebrated far and wide across the land''.]]
** GeniusBruiser
** LegacyCharacter: [[spoiler:Of [[WorldsStrongestMan Lu Bu]], whose headband he'd recovered and worn in the man's memory and [[FourStarBadass Gao Shun]], whose fighting style he'd taken after.]]
** SubmissiveBadass
** TookALevelInBadass: [[spoiler:After Lu Bu died]]. His biggest feat so far is [[spoiler:killing Wen Chou]], and the foreshadowings of Battle of Hefei state that it's just the beginning of many levels in badass that he's going to take.
** TranquilFury: ''Oops''. [[spoiler:Run, Yuan Tan, run ''again''.]]
** YouShallNotPass: Whenever he's in "No one has ever passed the range of my swords" mode. And not pass they shall. [[spoiler:Save for Sun Ce.]]
* BecauseYouWereNiceToMe: He intervened in a sparring match between Lu Bu and Guan Yu (happened with Lu Bu's soldiers surrounding the both of them, and Guan Yu already lost his weapon) in the manner of a sneak attack but actually meant to alert and free Guan Yu, because Guan Yu once saved his life. Lu Bu knew what he was doing, and punched him good.
* BodyDouble: For Lu Bu [[spoiler:and Cao Cao after he joined his side.]]
* {{Determinator}}
* EvilCounterpart: To Liaoyuan Huo. A (former) badass assassin and [[TheDragon dragon]] to a [[MyMasterRightOrWrong master with questionable morality]], with a subconscious desire for a better life instead of one of constant underhanded schemings, [[spoiler:and later join a new master who can offer them all that]]? You bet. The author is quite obvious about it as well, what with his constant dual expositions of these two, with hints here and there about their FutureBadass status.
* FriendlyEnemy: To Guan Yu.
* [[spoiler: HeelFaceTurn]]: [[spoiler: When he was finally captured by Cao Cao at the end of Xiapi campaign. Initially he was going for a DefiantToTheEnd ending, but Liu Bei persuaded him otherwise.]]
* HonorBeforeReason
* MeaningfulEcho: [[spoiler:To make Guan Yu surrender, he uses the same words that Liu Bei said to him in convincing him not to die after Lu Bu's defeat.]]
* MrFanservice
* MyMasterRightOrWrong: He has certain issues with Lu Bu's amoral ways, but shuts up most of the time. [[spoiler: He finally loses it when Lu Bu suggests using their subordinates as scapegoats to escape from Xiapi, and leaves Lu Bu's side to protect his men.]]
* ScarsAreForever: He got two slight gash on his face during a battle in which he impersonated as Lu Bu, and they stay with him.
* TryingToCatchMeFightingDirty: And [[ThePaladin Guan Yu]] calls him out on it.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Sun faction]]

* BadassCrew
* BadassFamily
* BadassGrandpa: Huang Gai.
* BrainwashedAndCrazy: [[spoiler: Ling Tong and Cheng Pu, after some direct contacts with Yu Ji.]] [[spoiler:And subverted with Cheng Pu.]]
* BunnyEarsLawyer: Lu Meng, a very talented [[GeniusBruiser strategist and general]], but [[BuffySpeak illiterate]] and [[ClusterFBomb crude]] (to people's exasperation). [[spoiler:By the time of Sun Ce's death, he's shown to be a much more eloquent and studious man.]]
* DefeatMeansFriendship: How Sun Ce gets Taishi Ci. Trolling the hell out of him helps, too.
* DefectorFromDecadence: [[spoiler:Gan Ning]].
* DespairEventHorizon: Sun Jian's death was one for them, since it brought about the clan's near collapse and forced its member to kowtow to the enemies. [[spoiler:Later, Sun Ce's death.]]
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler:Ling Cao.]]
* IFightForTheStrongestSide: The Lu clan, led by [[YoungAndInCharge Lu Xun]], which was previously an ally of Taiping cult but surrenders to the emerging Sun clan.
* IndyPloy: Invoked; Sun Ce always counts on his men and Zhou Yu to be adaptive and makes use of the situational advantages offered by his reckless charges.
* LegacyOfService: Most aged generals serving Sun Ce used to be his father Sun Jian's subordinates. After Ling Cao passed away, his son Ling Tong was given a title and joined Sun Ce.
* OneManArmy: Zhou Tai, Taishi Ci and Sun Ce (especially Sun Ce), who frequently take on a vast number of enemy troops alone.
* ParentalNeglect: Judging by the way he reacts to his daughter's near-death experience and Sun Ce's flashback, Sun Jian might be accused of this to his children. In the novel Bofu, Sun Ce gets this short end of the stick a lot and it damages his sense of self-worth quite severely.
* SirSwearsalot: Lu Meng.
* TheCallPutMeOnHold: Taishi Ci, who is young, talented and eager to prove himself to his lords, who are either too conservative to use his strategies or just plain disapproves of his hotbloodedness. Of course, he gets his due after joining the Sun clan.
* TooGoodForThisSinfulEarth: Sun Jian, whose ideals of righteousness and loyalty are out of keeping with the era he lives in.
* UndyingLoyalty: Sun Jian to the court, and Sun Ce is not pleased.
* [[spoiler: TheHeroDies]]
* WhatWereYouThinking: To Sun Ce, whenever he does something reckless (which is ''often'') like leaving the main troops to take on an entire army alone. Of course, to Sun Ce, it's always AllAccordingToPlan...
* WhatTheHellHero: [[spoiler:Ling Tong to Sun Ce, who desecrated Ling Cao's tomb and blamed it on the enemies to inspire his troops.]]
* YouKilledMyFather: Subverted with Ling Tong. He knows his father's sacrifice was needed to revive the Sun clan, and harbors no resentment towards Sun Ce or whoever has a hand in [[spoiler:the 'fake Sun Ce' plan]].

!!Sun Ce
[[quoteright:216:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/000_6647.jpg]]
-> ''[[CatchPhrase Heaven, I ask you]]. Are you on my side?''

The young leader of Sun clan, a powerful clan in the Eastern region. Starting with the death of his father Sun Jian, the Sun clan slowly fell victims to outside manipulations and opportunistists who are after the Imperial seal, which Sun Jian allegedly recovered from the ruins of Luoyang after Dong Zhuo's arc and hid away to protect it from ambitious men; by the time of their first appearance what remains is a mere shadow of their old glory. Seeking a way to rebuild his clan and avenge his father's death, Sun Ce submits to Yuan Shu, one of his father's former direct superiors. The cover of amity does not fool either side, though: Yuan Shu, the mastermind behind Sun Jian's death, aims at possessing the Imperial seal and eradicating a future threat, and Sun Ce wants to win his support only to gain the resources to reclaim the Eastern region. Volume 16-20 center around their conflict, [[spoiler:and end in Sun Ce's victory: he successfully escapes from under Yuan Shu's clutches to the Eastern region with a full army by means of one of the most clever BodyDouble strategy to date, Yuan Shu's forces is reduced by half, and the Imperial seal ends up in Yuan Shu's hands to be used in his ascension plan - as Sun Ce wishes - which will make him an enemy of the people]]. Also, by the end of this arc, we see that the Fifth Genius, Zhou Yu, is in his service.

After he's conquered all of the Eastern region's warlord, his archenemy reveals itself to be the remnant of Taiping rebellion, led by the so-called "Great Saint" Yu Ji, a Taoist who uses his medical and shaman knowledge to gather an overwhelming legion of followers. The 2nd arc featuring the Sun clan revolves around the Sun clan vs. Taiping cult battle in Eastern region.

Despite his age, Sun Ce is a very powerful warrior and is considered to be Lu Bu's equal in prowess, a reputation duly justified. He's also a highly cunning schemer in his own right, and is ''very'' clever at manipulating people. What his generals and advisors unanimously regard as his AchillesHeel is his over-enthusiasm with expanding their territory in the Eastern region and exacting revenge on his father's former foes, namely Liu Biao's general Huang Zu and the Taiping cult. In his eagerness to subdue them, more than once Sun Ce has recklessly put his own life on the line, a fact Zhou Yu's greatly concerned about. Still, none of their warnings dampen Sun Ce's spirit: he wholeheartedly believes that great sacrifices make the foundation for Sun clan's rule, and as the spearhead of the clan's offense force, he should do everything he can while Heaven is still on their side.

[[spoiler:With Pang Tong's aid, the Sun clan manages to defeat Yu Ji and annihilate his influence in their home base. However, in volume 39, another leader of Taiping called Zuo Ci shows up and sends assassins after Sun Ce to avenge Yu Ji. Their ambush takes him by surprise, and he dies of a poisonous arrow to the head after three months of struggle and insanity induced by extreme agony.]]

* TheAce: Almighty warrior, certified MagnificentBastard, [[RedBaron young conqueror]] at an impossible age, almost never plays by the rules and pulls crazy stunts not even the Eight Geniuses could predict only to always emerge victorious.
** BrokenAce: Yet is also a [[TheResenter resenter]] with daddy issues and deep-seated insecurities about the righteousness of his belief.
* AmbitionIsEvil: His father Sun Jian was a famous Loyalist who sacrificed his life to protect the Royal Seal from falling into the hands of wannabe usurpers, while he only wants to restore his clan's reign in the Eastern region and extricate it from any obligatory ties with the Royal Family (which is practically declaring the Eastern region an autonomy at best and a seperate country at worst). His object is thus relentlessly denounced by oppositions, who also like to remind him what a terrible son he is for not upholding his late father's belief. It causes him to develop self-doubts, [[spoiler:which later return to haunt him amidst the bouts of delirium he suffers in his dying bed.]]

* AnimalMotif: The tiger.
* ArmorPiercingQuestion: To Taishi Ci - "What is the meaning of loyalty?"
* '''{{Badass}}''': What do you expect from the guy whose animal motif is the tiger?
** AuthorityEqualsAsskicking: In charge, and is the best fighter of his clan.
** BadassBoast: "Heaven... you still protect the Sun clan."
** BreakTheBadass: "Break" is an understatement. Wiping the floor with them is more like it.
** CombatPragmatist: When it's him versus a horsed fighter, he aims for the horse and it works. [[spoiler:When it's him on a horse versus Zhang Liao, he ''knows'' Zhang Liao would aim for the horse and gives Zhang Liao a sound ass-kicking.]]
** CrowningMomentOfAwesome: Happens every time he charges alone into the enemy line and lives (which is, eh, all the time). The awesomeness is cranked up in one occasion, [[spoiler:where he grounded [[OneManArmy Zhang Liao]], then played the usual LeeroyJenkins card in his usual kickasstitude and screwed up the formations of Cao Cao's very well-organized army, ''then'' stormed through Cao Cao's famous Tiger and Leopard cavalry ''with his bare fists''. Shortly thereafter, [[OhCrap he got himself a weapon and chased after Cao Cao]]. Granted, the awesomness was cut short with Guan Yu appearing and scaring him off, but who isn't scared off by [[ThePaladin Guan Yu]]?]]
** CurbStompBattle: Not quite on Lu Bu's level yet, but ''holy shit'' this guy is pretty close. No one pulls a proud warrior (or a proud cavalry ''battalion'', for that matter) off his high horse like Sun Ce.
** DualWielding: Two halberds, but he also has a curious tendency to [[ThrowingYourSwordAlwaysWorks slip his hands]] with [[ImprobableAimingSkills deadly accuracy]].
** FoeTossingCharge
** GeniusBruiser: As Zhou Yu puts it: "A Lu Bu with Sun Tzu's wisdom".
** ImprobableAge: He leads the Sun army on a swift conquest of the Eastern region, defeating and outwitting men twice his age, and established the foundation of the Sun clan in 81 states in five years. Historically he's only around 24-25 [[spoiler:when he dies.]]
** '''LeeroyJenkins''': We find it awesome, but this aspect of Sun Ce isn't exactly encouraged in-story - after all, he's still the leader of an army and giving all precautions and advices the middle finger to charge right into the middle of the enemy line is ''not'' a risk-free, and therefore not at all recommendable, idea.
** OffscreenMomentOfAwesome: We only get to see the beginning and end of his conquest of the Eastern region, which is said to last five years, made of pure awesomeness, and has granted him legendary fame among the battle-weary Eastern warlords.
** OneManArmy
** SparingTheAces: To Taishi Ci and Zhang Liao.
** YoungConqueror: An actual in-universe RedBaron of his.
* [[spoiler:BodyDouble]]: [[spoiler:He pulled an epic one with Ling Cao, and everyone was fooled.]]
* BreakTheHaughty: Gets this every time people tell him he fails hard as a son of the Loyalist Sun Jian, and Cao Cao takes it even further by warning that he will not receive Heaven's blessings. This strikes a big chord with Sun Ce, since he's always believed that he is so successful with the Eastern region conquest because Heaven is on his side.[[spoiler: This trope is played ''terrifyingly'' straight during the hundred-day period of agonizing pains he suffers from an assassin's poisoned arrow, which culminate in him seeing himself flat-out condemned by his father in a dream for being a renegade who betrays Imperial Han, rather than a dutiful son his father'd wished him to be. [[TearJerker The entire scene is tear-jerking to behold.]]]]
* BreakThemByTalking
* CallBack: [[spoiler:Just like Ling Cao 19 volumes earlier, Sun Ce meets his end with an arrow to the head, and the last sane thought passing through his mind is also the narration line hanging in Ling Cao's death scene]]. Moreover, the one who [[spoiler:indirectly caused him to drop his guard and thus be vulnerable to that arrow]]? None other than [[spoiler:Ling Tong, to whom Sun Ce had even said, "If there is justice, when Heaven reprimands, pray that I suffer a hundred days of pain before I die!"]]
* TheChessmaster: A much more successful example than Lu Bu of an OneManArmy dishing out [[ThePlan a plan]] of his own.
* CuttingTheKnot: The primary advocator in Ravages. Throwing together all the toughest nuts and drop a freaking hammer on them is Sun Ce's way of doing things, and the way his gambits play this trope to all its worth cements his status as one of the major MagnificentBastard in-universe.
* DidntSeeThatComing: [[spoiler:Zuo Ci's assassins and their ambush.]]
* ExpectingSomeoneTaller: And it worked against ''everyone''.
* [[spoiler: FakingTheDead]]: [[spoiler:Once against Yuan Shu's assassination attempt, twice against Yu Ji's.]]
* FaceHeelTurn: [[DespairEventHorizon Sun Jian's premature death and the subsequent fall of the Sun clan]] turns Sun Ce completely off to the (traditionally valued) idea of following his father's loyal footsteps and returning to the court's service.
* ItsPersonal: A lot of the things he does are for the sake of avenging his dad's death. [[spoiler:He even tearfully admits it in his deathbed.]]
* [[spoiler:KilledOffForReal]]
** [[spoiler: PeacefulInDeath]]:[[spoiler: When Sun Ce finally dies after three months of suffering, Zhou Yu sees his spirit, gradually returning to his child form, run back to his father's arms.]]
--> [[spoiler:Sun Jian's spirit]]: [[spoiler:He's tired. Let him rest.]]
* KingIncognito: [[spoiler:No, he's not that burly, manly warrior with funny hairstyle and cool headband. See his cousin, the nondescript, laid-back, unassuming guy who is sent to take charge of Yuan Shu's asylum and has a good time with it with Liaoyuan Huo? Yeah, that's Sun Ce.]]
* MagneticHero
* MagnificentBastard: Outmaches his sworn brother Zhou Yu in this regard.
* MeaningfulEcho: [[spoiler:What was spoken by Ling Cao at his moment of death dawns on Sun Ce when he's shot in the head, similar to how Ling Cao died.]]
* PeekABangs
* RevengeBeforeReason: Is accused of this whenever his eagerness to eradicate the Taiping cult, his father's former archenemy, and to defeat Huang Zu, his father's murderer gets out of hand.
* RuleOfThree: [[spoiler:He avoids death at the hands of Taiping cult's assassins twice. He's not so lucky on the third time.]]
* SmugSmiler: Almost his default expression, because he's way too good at kicking asses. Somehow, he's also a...
* StepfordSmiler: Shows traits of this in the manhua. The novel plays it straight, in which his carefree facade hides a world of unspoken self-esteem issues, including but not limited to his desire for his strict dad's approval and his jealousy of Sun Quan for being the main focus of Sun clan's adoration and Sun Jian's fatherly love.
* TheReveal: [[spoiler: The "Sun Ce" that Gan Ning killed was actually Ling Cao, who acted as a bait to fool Yuan Shu into thinking Sun Ce was dead, so that the real Sun Ce (so far disguised as a distant cousin) could escape safely.]]
* TookALevelInJerkass
* WalkingSpoiler: It's hard to post any picture of him without spoiling [[spoiler:the 'fake Sun Ce' plan.]]
* WellDoneSonGuy: Turns out to be one, despite his constant condemnations of his father's characteristic loyalty which got him killed. In the side-story novel Bofu, he is this trope personified.
* WorldOfCardboardSpeech: A variation which leads to IAmWhatIAm-esque moments. [[spoiler:Sadly, the last one he receives gets him too high and and off-guard, leading to his death.]]
* YouKilledMyFather: To Yuan Shu and Huang Zu, and by proxy, to Huang Zu's boss Liu Biao.
* YoungAndInCharge
* YouthfulFreckles

!!Sun Quan

* BreakTheCutie: [[spoiler:During Sun Ce's hundred-day period of suffering from a poisoned arrow.]]
* ChekhovsGunman: [[spoiler:He's the boy who calls Shan Wu Ling "big sister" in a blink-and-you-will-miss-it moment in volume 6. Turns out they're not related at all.]]
* WalkingSpoiler: Like his brother, impossible to have any pictures of him posted without spoiling one of the longest Chekhov threads in Ravages so far.
* YoungAndInCharge: [[spoiler: Now official, after Sun Ce passes away.]]
* YoungestChildWins: In the novel Bofu, at least. Of the three children, Quan is the smartest child and takes after Sun Jian the most and thus is the clan's favorite.

!!Sun Shu

* ActionGirl
* AllLoveIsUnrequited: For a girl who isn't a bad catch at all, her streak of chasing after men who have deeper feelings for someone dead [[spoiler:or missing]] is really unfortunate. Once, it even gets her on the receiving end of a very cruel...
* BreakTheCutie: [[spoiler:Courtesy of Yuan Fang.]]
* SmittenTeenageGirl: To her fiancé, Yuan Fang. [[spoiler:She gets over it after he makes it clear that he doesn't love her, and tries to sacrifice her to help him escape from Dong Zhuo's army.]]
* TheBusCameBack: Disappears after the Luoyang arc, then returns briefly to announce her engagement with Liaoyuan Huo as a ploy to gain Sima clan's supports for the Sun clan's return to the Eastern regions. She has not been seen again since then.
* RescueRomance: To Liaoyuan Huo, after realizing he's saved her twice in the hostage rescue mission at Luoyang.
* {{Tomboy}}
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Yuan faction]]

* BadassCrew: The generals Yan Liang, Wen Chou and Zhang He, who are all Yuan Fang's loyal followers.
* BigGood: As the head of 18 warlords alliance at the start of the series, but only in name - the story quickly lets us know the warlords' self-serving nature and the Yuan is just as bad. They absolved from this status as soon as the Dong Zhuo left the capital and turned around to devour the other warlords one by one. By Guandu, they are the closest this series has to a BigBad.
* BigScrewedUpFamily: Enormous, and absolutely ''fucked up'' with sibling rivalry taken to its ugliest.
* BreakTheHaughty: The Liu, Cao and Sun force-feed them this trope.
* {{Fiction500}}: The clan which rules the Northern region.
* TheDragon: Yan Liang and Wen Chou for Yuan Shao. They're noted as his right and left-hand-man in warfare and earned their fame as the most fearsome of Northern generals some decades prior to the story.
* DroppedABridgeOnHim: [[spoiler:Sadly, Tian Feng, one of the supposedly wisest men of Yuan faction.]]
* GeniusBruiser: Wen Chou and Yan Liang. Ji Ling himself isn't lacking in the brain department.
* HoneyTrap: The famous beauty Lady Zhen to the Yuan brothers, arranged by Yuan Fang of course.
* HydraProblem: In a metaphorical sense. The Yuan clan is so big, and each clansman (especially the Yuan brothers) holds so much power and influence that it's in a constant state of internal conflicts, and both Yuan Fang and Yuan Shao sees uniting the clan as much a problem to tackle as defeating their many external, powerful enemies. Cao Cao even lampshades this at one point: assassinating Yuan Shao, the clanshead is not even an option, as many more Yuan Shaos will simply take his place.
* InadequateInheritor: The problem with Yuan Shao's three sons. Doesn't help that Yuan Fang is always there to put them down in the eyes of elder clansmen, either due to his schemes or sheer superior talents.
** The eldest, Yuan Tan, is remarked as being a temperamental leader. In the face of the furious OneManArmy [[spoiler:Liaoyuan Huo]], even with the entire cavalry force of Yuan clan behind him, Tan turned his tail and ran away into his own army's formation. It completely devastated his men's morale and cost them a victory in the beginning battle of Guandu arc. Tan soon became a laughing stock for the rest of the clan (partly thanks to Yuan Fang's men spreading the rumor as far as possible) and was essentially disinherited by Yuan Shao.
** The second eldest, Yuan Xi, is a wishy-washy womanizer who gave up his military control to Yuan Fang as soon as he got married to Lady Zhen, a beautiful woman whom three brothers were wooing (see HoneyTrap above).
** The third eldest, Yuan Shang, fares slightly better than his older brothers but still is a generally incompetent commander, and is known for hanging around opportunistic subordinates and outsiders on top of that.
* LargeHam: Ji [[CatchPhrase "OPEN YOUR EYES, FOOLS!!"]] Ling. Justified in that he's trying to boost his army morale.
* PaperTiger: Ji Ling. Poor dude isn't all that weak, but he just has to pick [[WorldsStrongestMan Lu Bu]], [[OneManArmy Guan Yu or Zhang Fei]] as his opponents.
* PutOnABus: Saving for the big shots like Yuan Shao and Yuan Fang, many Yuan members like Zhang He and Tian De appear early on in the story and only reappear when the Battle of Guandu approaches.
* SiblingRivalry: The worst case of this series. Yuan Shao's three sons Yuan Tan, Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang constantly squabble among themselves to get into their father's favors in the hope of becoming the sole heir. They disregard brotherly bonds, discredit and backstab each other to hell and back, and each relentlessly cultivates his own factions at the risk of incurring internal war within the clan. And if you count [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder Yuan Fang]] into the equation, it catapults this trope [[UpToEleven beyond the impossible]]. And then comes the Battle of Guandu...
** As in history it would prove to be [[spoiler:the downfall of the Yuan clan]], with the added twist that [[spoiler:Cao Cao's force concealed Yuan Fang's death so as to keep the post-Guandu infighting going]].
* TheUnfavourite: Yuan Shao's three sons, all of whom he holds in contempt compared to Yuan Fang.
* TheMole: Two of them. [[spoiler:Xu You for Yuan Fang, and Yang Qing for Guo Jia.]]
* TheWorfEffect: Principal victims are Yan Liang and Wen Chou, many times at the hands of Liu Bei' brothers. [[spoiler:Or Zhang Liao, who kills Wen Chou.]]

!!Yuan Shao
[[quoteright:245:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/RoT_Volume_043_0001_5398.jpg]]
-> ''"The world will be in the hands of my descendants."''

The leader of Yuan clan. From the perspective of outsiders, Yuan Shao is a conservative who prides himself on upholding the great loyalist tradition of his family background (a grand records of having produced three generations of family head risen to the prominent positions of excellency), but few know he harbors much darker ambitions. Knowing he cannot bring himself to disgrace the family by overthrowing the Emperor, Yuan Shao chooses to leave the finalization of his goal in the hands of his illegitimate and most beloved son, Yuan Fang. Seeing that Fang has no such intention at first, he killed his son's fiancee at the cost of Fang's love for him, reasoning that the hatred will be a powerful motivator. To aid Fang further in his quest for revenge and overtaking, Yuan Shao turns a blind eyes to most of his devious plans to emasculate his political enemies (among them Yuan Shao's three sons) and reinforce his own party's standing in the clan - even as Shao himself is slowly turned into a figurehead, stripped off of influence, as a result of it.

[[spoiler:The Yuan's defeat in Guandu deals Yuan Shao a debilitating blow and effectively removes him from his position of leadership in the clan. At the news of Yuan Fang's death, he finally collapses and dies with a broken heart.]]

* AbusiveParents: He never actively tries to quell the in-fightings his children are responsible for, and secretly encourages Yuan Fang's various schemes to exacerbate the situation. Taken UpToEleven in the Battle of Guandu, [[spoiler:when he's overjoyed to hear that Yuan Fang's master plan involves killing ''all three brothers'' and ''Yuan Shao himself'' to take over the clan.]]
* AloofBigBrother: To Yuan Shu, especially after the latter declares himself Emperor Zhongjia and founds his own country. [[spoiler:And he pretty much leaves Yuan Shu for death after he's defeated by Liu Bei, declining his requests for rations and backup troops.]]
* BreakTheHaughty
* ChewingTheScenery: In a HamToHamCombat with [[LargeHam Dong Zhuo]], no less.
* [[spoiler:DeathByDespair]]: [[spoiler:When Yang Xiu finally spills the beans about what happened to Yuan Fang.]]
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: Ultimately, his love and ambitions for Yuan Fang cost him and his clan everything.
** Had he bothered to raise his other sons properly and not just focused on Yuan Fang, it would have saved his clan a lot of unnecessary internal scuffles and concentrated their whole resources into crushing Cao Cao.
** Putting a check on Yuan Fang's schemes would cause something to a similar effect, since half the things that Yuan Fang does with his blessings involve aggravating the tension between his other brothers.
** Finally, the Yuan clan could still have crushed Cao Cao even after the ignominious defeat at Guandu (yes, they are that powerful) if only he had just come to his sense and suspected something was amiss when [[spoiler:Yuan Fang]] went missing for two whole years since Guandu and only communicated via letters. Believing in his son's scheme, he didn't, instead left the three brothers to their own device. The rest is history.
* {{Hypocrite}}: He wants to conquer China as much as every other warlord but feels that he cannot fail to uphold the image of the four-generation-loyalist Yuan clan, so he chooses to dump the dirty jobs onto his bastard son Yuan Fang. People can say what they want about Cao Cao, but at least that guy is openly disloyal.
* {{Irony}}: On account of their immense wealth, prestige and charisma, Yuan Shao and his clan surpass contemporary warlords, seemingly poised to swiftly crush any opposing forces and reunite China. Yet, after Lu Bu, they become the second powerhouse to fall before Cao Cao. Yuan Shao never lives to see it to the end, else he will have also found that the future Three Kingdoms shall be founded by Cao Cao, Liu Bei and Sun Jian's two sons - in other words, the very three warlords who used to be infinitely beneath him and whom he once looked down upon. Not to mention that by Yuan Shao himself is partially responsible for the fall of his clan by devising many gambits meant to strengthen its standings yet having them all backfire to his face (see TheChosenOne below).
* LargeHam
* [[LukeIAmYourFather Yuan Fang I Am Your Father]]: Which makes you kind of wonder why Yuan Fang didn't realize it earlier, especially since he was twenty at the time of this revelation, and his father died ''twenty-two'' years before that.
* MurderTheHypotenuse: What Yuan Shao resorts to when Yuan Fang stubbornly refuses the arranged marriage with Sun Jian's daughter.
* SoProudOfYou: When the true scope of Yuan Fang's {{plan}} in the Battle of Guandu finally dawns on him ''while he's being shot at'' by [[spoiler:Yuan Fang's archers]]. See Yuan Fang above.
* StrongFamilyResemblance: With his sons, who [[http://www.mangareader.net/336-31543-9/the-ravages-of-time/chapter-272.html also]] [[http://www.mangareader.net/336-39026-8/the-ravages-of-time/chapter-296.html resemble]] [[http://www.mangareader.net/336-39026-6/the-ravages-of-time/chapter-296.html each other]].
* TheChosenOne: Invoked - he wholeheartedly believes his son Yuan Fang is born destined to be the conqueror of the North and eventually of China, and devotes everything he has in preparation for that day. What he doesn't get is blindly putting all eggs in one basket is ''not'' something a wise bettor should do, proven by the fact that [[spoiler:once Yuan Fang is dead, and Yuan Shao follows him soon afterward, the Yuan clan's internal conflicts (which were part of Yuan Fang's master plan and implicitly approved by Yuan Shao -- he intended for Fang to win them) are left unchecked and instantly push the disintegration beyond any hopes of repair. What is left is easy picking for Cao Cao and Guo Jia.]]
* ToughLove: Yuan Fang being his favourite child, Yuan Shao spares no efforts to ensure he get to the top. Even when said efforts involve killing the girl he loves to force him into a prestigious arranged marriage.
* [[WellDoneSonGuy "Well Done, Dad" Guy]]: Turns out he's one at heart, despite having accepted that his dearest son will never reciprocate his familial love. [[spoiler:Becomes apparent when hearing Yuan Fang calling him "father" once instantly moves him to tears, and the peak moment of this being at Guandu when he realizes his son's overall plan.]]
* WellIntentionedExtremist: YMMV on "well-intentioned", but at heart he's a clanshead who looks out for its best interests by supporting his illegitimate son's grand scheme to seize control, unite the clan and take over China. Since said son happens to be [[MagnificentBastard Yuan Fang]], well...

!!Yuan Shu

* ZeroPercentApprovalRating: As he later finds out.
* BadSamaritan: To a T. His amiable facade fools no one, though.
* ButtMonkey: His and by extention his entire armies only shown fights are ones where they're defeated and outsmarted over and over again by every single major warlord. He hasn't been shown a single victory [[spoiler:and died in an argueably the most gruesome way out of everybody]].
** [[spoiler:Make that pathetic: slowly poisoned to death by Sima Yi, spends his last moment in rags and tortured with IncurableCoughOfDeath, amidst only a few loyal men by his bedside while the others are fleeing outside... The image is put in stark contrast with his remembrance of former days of glory, when he ascended as Zhongjia emperor.]]
* FauxAffablyEvil
* GenreBlind: He declares himself Emperor in an age where loyalty is still a respected social value, the Imperial clan still holds sway with its subjects, people still detest court usurpers, and not even Dong Zhuo or Cao Cao had the audacity to make themselves king (and get treated like villains of the century for being EvilChancellor). Yeah, [[SarcasmMode things are going to end well for Yuan Shu.]]
** AmbitionIsEvil
** BeingEvilSucks
* {{Gonk}}
* GoneHorriblyRight: His plans to obtain the royal seal and claim emperorship. Both of them work, and to disastrous results.
* [[spoiler:HeelFaceDoorSlam]]
* HopeSpot: Given one by Sima Yi in the aftermath of his final battle with Liu Bei - in exchange for food and a halt of Guan Yu's force, Yuan Shu would give a public statement to support Yuan Shao becoming Emperor and thus destroy Yuan Shao's reputation. [[spoiler:Sima Yi poisons him to death soon after.]]
* [[spoiler:HowTheMightyHaveFallen]]: [[spoiler:Offing him was perhaps an act of mercy on Sima Yi's part.]]
* HumiliationConga: Starting from the Sun Ce arc and throughout two encounters with Liu Bei and one with Lu Bu, he's constantly on the receiving ends of this.
* KickThemWhileTheyAreDown: After indirectly causing Sun Jian's death, his manipulations tear the Sun clan from inside out and almost completely break down their military force. Of course, he gets his due once Sun Ce decides to stop taking shits from him.
* [[spoiler:KilledOffForReal]]
* LargeHam: Especially after he declares himself Emperor. Apparently it runs in the family.
* NewEraSpeech: His team is fond of delivering these with all the positive effects ''averted'', something they never seem to notice.
* MeaningfulEcho: Goes from "Listening to the will of the people is obeying the will of Heaven" as Emperor-to-be to "Foolish masses..what are you thinking?" as [[spoiler:Emperor dethroned]].
* SmugSnake
* TheScrappy: In universe example. Nobody is willing to ally with him due to the fact that he declared himself as Emperor and made an enemy of almost every major warlord. [[spoiler:It's to the point where his own family rejects him and leaves him for death.]]
* VillainousBreakdown: Multiple times, and in the last time he never recovers. [[spoiler:His army is completely curb-stomped by Liu Bei's ragtag battalions of soldiers and raging civilians, then he finds himself isolated from the Yuan clan and denied of aids.]]

!!Yuan Shu's advisor

* [[spoiler:AssholeVictim]]
* TheChessmaster
* [[spoiler:DiesWideOpen]]
* HannibalLecture: To the "dishonorable" Shan Wu Ling. Cue Sima Yi retorts with an [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome awesome]] ShutUpHannibal and sweeps Wu Ling off her feet.
* IgnoreTheFanservice
* MuggingTheMonster: He hijacks several caravans (knowing the cargo belongs to Sima Yi) and kidnaps a group of Sun Ce's supporters to get Shan Wu Ling (not knowing among them there ''is'' Sima Yi). Not surprisingly, [[spoiler:[[KilledOffForReal he ends up like many assholes who crossed Sima Yi's path.]]]]
* NoNameGiven: [[EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep Everyone calls him advisor.]]
* PoliticallyIncorrectVillain: Invokes StayInTheKitchen to Shan Wu Ling, of all things.
* SmugSnake: Has shades of a MagnificentBastard, but ultimately fails to deliver. [[spoiler:He dies too soon.]]
* StrawMisogynist: ''Oooh boy''.
* TheStrategist
* UndyingLoyalty
* WouldHitAGirl
* TheWorfEffect: He invokes one against Shan Wu Ling, complete with a sound StayInTheKitchen lecture. [[spoiler:Then Sima Yi repays the favor.]]

!!Yang Qing/[[spoiler:Yang Xiu]]

* [[spoiler:AWolfInSheepsClothing]]
* DragonWithAnAgenda: [[spoiler:To Yuan Fang]] and as it turns out, [[spoiler:to Cao Cao as well.]]
* EyesAlwaysShut
* [[spoiler:FalseFriend]]: [[spoiler:To Yuan Fang]]. [[spoiler:Then to Cao Zhi as well.]]
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: [[spoiler:He's Yang Xiu, later known as one of Cao Cao's most famous advisors and supporter of his younger son Cao Zhi.]]
* KickTheDog: Poor [[spoiler:Yuan Shao.]]
* [[spoiler:HeroKiller]]
* [[spoiler:SecretIdentity]]: [[spoiler:Yang Xiu, son of Yang Bao, the former Grand Commandant and old-time rival of Yuan Shao. His mother is Yuan Shu's sister, so that makes him a cousin of Yuan Fang. Of course, there's a whole another business about him being Yang Xiu, just look at HistoricalDomainCharacter above.]]
* SmugSnake: He just can't help it. [[spoiler:Not when he's the one who ensures Cao Cao's victory at Guandu by burning the Yuan army's rations and personally racks up the highest body count by assassinating Yuan Fang, poisoning Tian Feng, and manipulating Yuan Shao to death.]]
* [[spoiler:TheNondescript]]
* [[spoiler:TheStarscream]]: [[spoiler:What he intends to be to Cao Cao.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Dong faction]]

* AssholeVictim: [[spoiler:Li Jue and Guo Si.]]
* BestServedCold: [[spoiler:Hua Xiong's subordinates Song Xian, Wei Xu and Hou Cheng, who joined Lu Bu's army to have a chance at revenge for Hua Xiong and Dong Zhuo.]]
* ChekhovsGunman: Xu Lin, ''twice''. [[spoiler:Hint: He's dead, but he has son''s''.]] Also Hua Xiong's subordinates Song Xian, Wei Xu and Hou Cheng.
* DragonWithAnAgenda: Lu Bu to Dong Zhuo.
* GreenEyedMonster: Hua Xiong to Lu Bu. One of the reasons he dislikes and distrusts Lu Bu is Lu Bu's rapid promotions in the faction and being adopted by Dong Zhuo within a year of joining them.
* FaceDeathWithDignity: [[spoiler:Zhang Ji.]]
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler:Niu Fu]] and [[spoiler:Dong Yue.]]
* IdiotBall: [[spoiler:After Dong Zhuo's death, his generals keep juggling it. Understandably, they don't last long.]]
* IgnoredExpert: [[spoiler:Jia Xu. Dong Zhuo should have listend to his plans instead of Li Ru's.]]
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Dong Huang, Dong Zhuo's nephew.
* SpannerInTheWorks: The 3rd camp captains. [[spoiler:And Dong Zhuo's edict.]]
* StupidEvil: Li Jue and Guo Si, [[spoiler:who abuse the Emperor and rampage Chang'an after Jia Xu's departure, and ultimately cause the downfall of Dong Zhuo's remnant faction with their interminable in-fightings.]]
* WeHardlyKnewYe: Xu Lin, who is praised as Dong Zhuo's best advisor, but dies in the 1st chapter. His death is also the start of many [[TheWorfEffect worf-effect-induced]] incidents caused by Sima Yi and the Crippled Legion in the entire Dong Zhuo arc.

!!Dong Zhuo

* AntiVillain: Type III.
* BreakThemByTalking
* TheChessmaster
* ChewingTheScenery
* CoolOldGuy
* EvilMentor: To Emperor Liu Xie.
* [[spoiler:GoryDiscretionShot]]
* [[spoiler:HoistByHisOwnPetard]]
* [[spoiler:KilledOffForReal]]
** [[spoiler:[[KilledMidSentence Killed Mid-Laugh]]]]
* KnightTemplar WellIntentionedExtremist
* LargeHam: In term of being ridiculously bombastic about it, no hammy characters in this series, not even Cao Cao or Yuan Shao, can break his records.
* MagneticHero: YMMV on "hero", but you cannot deny he is extremely charismatic.
* [[spoiler:MentorOccupationalHazard]]
* MoralEventHorizon: Mass-murdering court officials, deposing the young Emperor and giving his brother the throne, installing himself as the Grand Tutor, among others. The universal opinion is that he crossed it a long time ago.
* [[spoiler:MyDeathIsJustTheBeginning]]
* [[spoiler:ObiWanMoment]]: [[spoiler:He faces death with quite the dignity.]]
* PetTheDog: He's generally a respected role model to his daughter, nephew and two sons-in-law, who are both very loyal to his cause.
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: Dealt it to way too many people, and to his credit, only Yuan Shao has strong enough convictions to remain unwavered and talk back to him. [[spoiler:Gets one himself from Lu Bu when the later kills him.]]
* ScrewDestiny: Basically his response to Li Ru's prophecy of his death. [[spoiler:He almost made it, but eventually was not quite there.]]
* TheUnfettered
* TyrantTakesTheHelm

!!Li Ru

* TheChessmaster
* CoolMask: Dons one during his shaman session.
* TheFatalist: As Dong Zhuo's shaman, he is a believer in heavens and destiny. He predicted Xu Lin's death before it happened and is moved to tears when the prophecy came out that Dong Zhuo would die as well. In the later case he doesn't merely stop at YouCantFightFate and instead is inspired to actively prevent the prophecy from being realized.
* GoneHorriblyWrong: His plan to expose Lu Bu's treachery. [[spoiler:Subverted, then subverted ''again''. To sum it up, Lu Bu wins.]]
* HopeSpot: After he fully uncovers Lu Bu's false loyalty in front of Dong Zhuo's soldiers, he returns to his quarter to find the lantern symbolizing Dong Zhuo's life in his oracle, which was supposed to go out, lit up and takes it as a sign from Heaven that Dong Zhuo's life has been spared thanks to his efforts to counter the previous prophecy. [[spoiler:Then Zhang Liao reveals himself to not be dead, Lu Bu's coup d'etat still continues, he was the one who lit the lantern, then stabs Li Ru and sics three beguiled hostile captains on him.]]
* OvershadowedByAwesome: He tries hard, but eventually it dawns on him just how hopelessly overshadowed he is in the gambit expertise by other brilliant men like Lu Bu or Sima Yi.
* TearsOfJoy: As Dong Zhuo announces him his rightful heir after they successfully conspired to expose Lu Bu's usurpation.
* TooCleverByHalf: [[spoiler:Not only does his complex {{plan}} fail to save Dong Zhuo's life, it also causes his own death at the hands of the beguiled 3rd camp captains and sets him up as Dong Zhuo's murderer thanks to Lu Bu's very clever maneuvers.]]

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Other characters]]
!!Shan Wu Ling
[[quoteright:194:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/17-a_5509.jpg]]
-> ''"[[TemptingFate The Sima clan is already upon my lips.]]"''

Daughter of the Shan merchant clan, and fiancee [[spoiler:(later wife)]] of Sima Yi. Like Sima Yi, Shan Wu Ling possesses genius-level cunnings and ruthlessness, as well as a drive to gain profits for her clan's business with little respect for common ethics. Thus, similar to Sima Yi, she is the clan's strategist and the advisor-commander of its private assassin squad, the Defeated Generals.

Under her leadership, the Shan clan pursues a different policy from that of the rival Sima clan: they seek to associate with prominent warlords, such as Cao Cao and Sun Jian, to expand their influence, and the Sima's estrangement with such affiliation to preserve wealth is looked down upon as unambitious miserliness. As such, Shan Wu Ling doesn't hold Sima Yi in very high regards, and secretly aims to take over the Sima clan once they marry. [[spoiler:They finally meets in a mission to aid Sun Ce conquer the Eastern region, during which they are captured by Yuan Shu's advisor. When Wu Ling is humiliated by the advisor for trying to seduce him to get out of this pinch, Sima Yi, moved by her courage and noble intentions to protect her family, speaks up in her defense and genuinely accepts her as his wife. After he outwits and kills the advisor, she learns that he's Sima Yi and falls in love with him.]]

[[spoiler: It's later revealed that through the Shan clan's long-term relationship with the Sun clan, Shan Wu Ling is the sworn older sister of Sun Quan, future lord of the Wu kingdom. She and Sima Yi still assist the Sun clan in secret.]]

* AllIsWellThatEndsWell: [[spoiler:Although Sima Yi saves her life, it's still a rather dick move on his part to blackmail her family to make up for his monetary loss in this rescue mission. But she's already in love with him and they're about to marry and unite the two families anyway, so the incident is EasilyForgiven.]]
* [[BigDamnHeroes Big Damn Heroine]]: [[spoiler: Fakes insanity to save Sima Yi from being ratted out by Xu Ding's spy in volume 25. She also secretly harbors the Sima brothers, and arranges for her foster father to protect the remaining Sima clan's servants. [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome With her support, Sima Yi survives Xu Ding's manhunt and makes a spectacular comeback in volume 26.]]]]
* ChekhovsGunman: Appears very early on in volume 6, but does not returns until volume 15 and is revealed to be Sima Yi's betrothed in volume 16.
* CoolBigSis: [[spoiler:To Sun Quan.]]
* DistaffCounterpart: To her fiancé Sima Yi. Both are [[TheChessmaster intelligent and manipulative]], YoungAndInCharge of their family businesses, considered ''very'' dishonorable by common standards, and willing to go to extreme ends to expand the clan's influence. Though unlike Sima Yi, she's not averse to making big investments in warlords such as the Cao and Sun clan.
* [[spoiler:HappilyMarried]]: [[spoiler:To Sima Yi.]]
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Don't let her name fool you. [[spoiler:She's Zhang Chun Hua, Sima Yi's historical wife.]]
* FemmeFatale: [[InvokedTrope Attempts to be one]] to seduce Yuan Shu's advisor. It doesn't work, but Sima Yi appreciates the efforts.
* RichBitch
* RightInFrontOfMe: [[spoiler:When she realizes the manservant she's been casually leaking her unsavory marriage plans (among others) to is actually her fiancé in disguise.]]
* RescueRomance: [[spoiler:Falls in love with Sima Yi after he defends her honor and saves her from Yuan Shu's advisor.]]
* UnderestimatingBadassery: To Sima Yi, partly due to having never met him before and partly due to him (purposefully) giving her an exaggerated account of his achievements (or so she believes). [[spoiler:Cue a volume later, where he easily outwits a man who outwitted and humiliated her earlier and kills him, saving her life.]]
* ViolentlyProtectiveGirlFriend: Will do ''anything'' to aid and protect the love of her life.

!!Liu Da
[[spoiler:The founder and 1st generation leader of the Crippled Legion, and also the original legendary one-eyed assassin.]]

* ChekhovMIA: [[spoiler:He's first mentioned in the hostage rescue arc (volume 1-5) as a legendary assassin whose mantle Huo has taken up. Then he shows up in volume 15, very much alive and still kicking ass, ''and'' he introduces himself as Dian Wei's boss.]]
* CoolOldGuy
* CoolTeacher: He has [[IncrediblyLamePun a good eye]] for recruiting talented assassins who [[FutureBadass will become great assets for warlords in the future]]. Some of them are Liaoyuan Huo [[spoiler:who is Zhao Yun]], [[spoiler:Dian Wei]] a great general of Cao Cao, Xu Sheng and Pan Zhang [[spoiler:who serves Sun Quan]]. He also tutors Shan Wu Ling's little brother, [[spoiler:who is actually Sun Quan.]]
* EvilMentor: He's not really evil per se, but is definitely not a nice person.
* EyepatchOfPower: [[spoiler:Sports one when he was in charge of the Crippled Legion]].
* {{Jerkass}}: A coldly practical, calculating and full of GenreSavvy jerkass.
* [[spoiler:LivingLegend]]
* RetiredBadass

!!Liu Xie/The Emperor

* ArmorPiercingSlap: To Cao Cao.
* BadassDecay: He shows potentials of a capable Emperor under Dong Zhuo's tutelage, but reduces himself to a submissive figurehead under Li Jue and Guo Si.
** He has a brief makeover when he subdues Cao Cao in volume 19, but Guandu comes up and it turns out Cao Cao has taken the reins again.
* CatchPhrase: "[insert anti-heroic warlord name here]----!!!!! I resent that you are so late!." Said to both Dong Zhuo and Cao Cao, to which the latter comments that it's just his way of shifting blames for the fall of Han from useless Emperors to warmongering vassals.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: His supporting Lu Bu's scheme to assassinate Dong Zhuo was one of the worst examples in-story.
* LargeHam: Manages to play at it evenly with Dong Zhuo, and beats ''Cao Cao'' in what's very close to a HamToHamCombat during the Emperor "escorting" arc in volume 19. It's nothing short of a CrowningMomentOfAwesome for him in-universe. [[spoiler:Sadly, the display of his Imperial spirit stops then and there.]]
* PuppetKing
[[/folder]]

to:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: The Sima clan]]

One of
With the richest main series quickly reaching a [[LongRunner long-running]] {{Doorstopper}} status and most prestigious merchant clans residing in He'nei of Yanzhou, which boasts vast material wealth and business influence as well as multiple court connections. At the beginning of the story, the teenage Sima Yi has become the clanshead thanks to his intelligence and [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters ever keen business sense. Following his audacious schemes, the clan on introducing new players]], Ravages of Time's character sheet now has not only withstood the chaos and remained firm in got its position as the rich patron of He'nei but also become a force to be reckoned with among many warring factions. However, little by little, the clansmen find themselves sunken deeper into the chaos they (or rather, Sima Yi and his right-hand-man Liaoyuan Huo) helped create.own subpages.

* AnnoyingYoungerSibling: Sima Yi's little brothers who drive everyone nuts with their little tricks.
Characters/RavagesOfTimeSimaClan
* BattleButler: Jia Kui's father to Sima Yi.
Characters/RavagesOfTimeEightGeniuses
* [[spoiler:BodyguardBetrayal: The final leader of the Handicapped Warriors, Xu Ding, is actually on Cao Cao's side... along with the Sima clan's own men-at-arms.]]
Characters/RavagesOfTimeCaoClan
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder
Characters/RavagesOfTimeLiuClan
* [[spoiler:DarkestHour]]: [[spoiler:Volume 25]].
Characters/RavagesOfTimeSunClan
* DespairEventHorizon: [[spoiler: Came very close to crossing it during the years they were made Cao Cao's personal money bag, and finally crossed it in the near-total annihilation the Cao soldiers and insiders carried out on them in volume 25 -- at one point, Sima Yi orders that his men hold him down before telling him the bad news.]]
Characters/RavagesOfTimeYuanClan
* [[spoiler:DecapitationPresentation]]: [[spoiler:The fate of Sima Yi's Fourth uncle when the Sima clan's mutiny was sabotaged.]]
Characters/RavagesOfTimeDongClan
* [[spoiler:DrivenToSuicide]]: [[spoiler:..and the fates of the remaining clansheads, two of which were results of SelfDestructiveCharge.]]
Characters/RavagesOfTimeLuBuFaction
* [[spoiler:EverybodysDeadDave]]
* {{Fiction500}}
* IFightForTheStrongestSide: More like, 'invest' in the strongest side. And will turn on them the moment things look unsavory. [[spoiler:Too bad serving Cao Cao just doesn't work that way.]]
* [[spoiler:KillEmAll]]
** [[spoiler:CameBackStrong]]: [[spoiler:It is now allied with the Zhang and Shan clans thanks to Sima Yi's marriage to Shan Wuling (aka Zhang Chunhua) and, by Sima Yi's machinations, has united the merchant clans in Cao Cao's home base.]]
* LegacyOfService: The father and son of Jia family who take turn serving as Sima Yi's [[TheDragon Dragon]]; the son Jia Chong would go on to serve Sima Yi's son Sima Zhao, who was instrumental in [[spoiler:the collapse of Wei and its usurpation by his son Sima Yan, the inaugural emperor of Jin]].
* MoleInCharge: Jia Kui.
* MonochromaticEyes: Jia Kui.
* MoralityPet: The entire clan, and to some extent even the Crippled Legion (especially Liaoyuan Huo), to Sima Yi.
* NiceGuy: Sima Yi's brother, Sima Lang.
* OnlyInItForTheMoney: The reason for their involvements in warlord affairs.
* [[spoiler:[[MyDeathIsJustTheBeginning Our Death Is Just The Beginning]]]]
* [[spoiler:SacrificialLion]]
* ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney
* ShipperOnDeck: Sima Yi's little brothers and the other Legion members to Huo/Xiao Meng.
* TheDragon: Jia Kui to Sima Yi.
* TheScrooge: Sima Yi's three uncles.
* UndyingLoyalty: A virtue commonly found in their servants, though the Sima clan returns the favor, with Sima Yi's brother Sima Lang going so far as to [[spoiler:plead with his servants to take his head as a bargaining chip with which to save themselves during Xu Ding's assault on the residence]].

!!Sima Yi
[[quoteright:223:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/569d39a3ac174f7a0ef477b2_1158.jpg]]
-> ''"[[CrapsackWorld The world is filled with evil]], and fighting it is like hitting a rock with an egg. [[WarIsHell Years of war would only bring misery to the living]]. [[IFightForTheStrongestSide It may be better to help the strongest power]] to [[TakeOverTheWorld conquer the world]], then after a speedy restoration of peace, [[TheStarscream take over the reign]]."''

The head of the famous merchant clan Sima, and also the strategist behind every success of its assassin squad, the Crippled Legion. He's not interested in taking the side of any warlords, and only makes a move when it gives his family a new business opportunity. With Liaoyuan Huo, his schemes behind the scene have been crucial in many major wars, and have caused some others, between warring states, even though historically it will not be tens of years later until Sima Yi makes his first appearance. However, the interferences of other schemers on the scene make it inevitable that he soon will have to take a permanently active role in the conflicts of this era. [[spoiler: After his clan is exterminated during a mutiny against Cao Cao, he finally joins Cao Cao's side to plead impunity for the remaining members of his family. His true goal is, however, to help Cao Cao defeat all other warlords, and then seize power from him.]]

It should be noted that he is the implied 'phoenix' in the series title, a fact several times [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] in the narratives.

* AnimalMotif: He's often compared to a wolf [[spoiler:and has a neck like one, which once saved his life from a NeckSnap]], but his true animal motif is the phoenix. In-universe, Pang Tong is the only one who seems to realize this and has commented on it. [[spoiler: He should know, since Sima Yi beat him in solving a puzzle, the reward for which was the two title Fledgling Phoenix and Crouching Dragon. The only other one to solve the puzzle correctly, Zhuge Liang, got the Dragon title - meaning the Phoenix title might very well have been Sima Yi's, had he been one of the Eight.]]
* {{Bishonen}}: Not that we can't see it, but it's even indirectly confirmed in-universe. [[spoiler: He looks identical to Fifth Genius Zhou Yu, THE bishonen of the Three Kingdom period.]]
* [[spoiler: BestServedCold]]: [[spoiler:His plan for the eventual payback against Cao Cao.]]
* '''''TheChessmaster''''': Definitely on par with the Eight Geniuses in this regard.
** AlwaysSomeoneBetter: Sima Yi to ''every other strategist''. Only the Eight Geniuses are spared TheWorfEffect in a duel of wits with him, themselves being universally acknowledged as the best strategists of China.
** BookDumb: According to one of his old classmates, he could barely pass because his grades were so bad. It might just be a case of BrilliantButLazy, though, as the same classmate admitted he never beat Sima Yi in maths.
** BrainsAndBrawn: The brains to Liaoyuan Huo's brawn.
** BrilliantButLazy: At first. And then he finds his GoalInLife...
** '''CrazyPrepared''': Competes with the [[MagnificentBastard Eight]] [[TheChessmaster Geniuses]] (and beats them, very likely) to be the king of this trope in this series. The fact that he has more hidden pieces to be used at the last moments to save the day than anyone else on the same gameboard is lampshaded for God knows how many time, and quite a number of fans have been frustrated by his over-the-top resourcefulness to the point they consider him the resident DeusExMachina.
** MagnificentBastard
** TeenGenius
** TheManBehindTheMan: Oh so much.
** ThePlan: Every bit as good at them as the Eight.
** WildCard: Sima Yi's strategic genius and his clan's monetary influence are great allies for any warlords to have. Too bad they just couldn't care less about who comes out the winner, only how much cash they can make out of each campaign, and will switch to whichever side that benefits them. [[spoiler: This attitude is what eventually convinces Cao Cao that an unreliable ally is better a dead ally, and he wipes them all out.]]
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: Is seen as suffering from this by others. Which makes him terrifyingly effective as a [[spoiler:RedHerringMole]], as [[spoiler: Yuan Fang]] found out too late...
** As Cao Cao's DragonWithAnAgenda, he seeks every opportunity to prove his worth to Cao Cao and if there's no opportunity present, [[TheManBehindTheMan he creates them by lending secret helps to the enemies]].
* CorruptCorporateExecutive
* CreateYourOwnVillain: His part in [[spoiler:Xiao Meng]]'s death might be the start of a series of circumstances that eventually prompts [[spoiler:Huo]] to kill him as seen in chapter 1.
* DarkMessiah: Knowing his capability and [[TheStarscream philosophy]], Liaoyuan Huo believes he has the potential to be this. He... has certain reservations, and would rather not be. [[spoiler:The reservations got thrown outta the window when his family died at Cao Cao's hands.]]
* DidntSeeThatComing: [[spoiler: Who could have known that Xu Lin had ''another'' son ?]]
* DreamingOfThingsToCome: Has one in the 1st chapter, of how his life will end.
* DragonWithAnAgenda
* EvilCounterpart: To Zhuge Liang. They're both geniuses gifted with the most extraordinary degree of foresights and are initially unwilling to participate in the war for similar reasons - Sima Yi sees the world as too infested with evil to care about anything except the financial interest of his family, and, though he arrives at this conclusion much later on, Zhuge Liang also loses hope for the country's redemption at some point - but their personalities and philosophies are fundamentally different: Yi is money-driven and lacks any particular regard for ethics while Liang is one of the most morally upright characters in the story, Yi would rather serve a morally ambiguous ''and'' powerful lord to swiftly end the war while Liang pledges loyalty only to another as righteous as himself. Liaoyuan Huo/[[spoiler:Zhao Yun]] is a loyal follower of both (his switching allegiance marks a major character development), and their masters (Cao Cao and Liu Bei), interestingly enough, turn out to be [[EvilCounterpart Evil]]/GoodCounterpart of each other as well.
* FakeDefector: He frequently makes use of [[spoiler: the grudge on Cao Cao of his family's downfall]] to become buddy with the enemy side and feed them the wrong information.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: He tended to get too deeply involved in warlord conflicts for the sake of family business (in many an occasion it was thanks to Huo's screw-ups, but he did not dwell on that) while remained fully aware of the risks. The outcomes benefitted them for a while, [[spoiler:until Cao Cao got hold of the secret of their underhanded business with the Crippled Legion and Xun Yu forced him to surrender on basis of that claim so that the Cao clan could extort money from the Simas until their near financial collapse. ''Then'', he fell for Pang Tong's ruse and raised a mutiny in accordance with the anti-Cao warlord alliance's revolt, only for the Cao army to curb-stomp it and wipe out his clan.]] Later, he swears to drop these habits.
* IDidWhatIHadToDo: His reason for [[spoiler:causing Xiao Meng's death]]. Liaoyuan Huo is, naturally, not placated.
* ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice: How he will die, as shown in [[BookEnds chapter 1]].
* KickTheSonOfABitch: Unhesitantly if said SOB obstructs his family business in any way.
* KingIncognito: He likes to wear servant's clothes and walks around acting like one (tending to horses, cooking, etc.). It frequently leads to [[RightInFrontOfMe Right In Front Of You]] moments, when people realize (usually too late) that he's the de facto leader of Sima clan and the guy in command of the Crippled Legion.
** Later, when his identity is pretty much known to everyone, he changes his fashion style to another more befitting his status.
* LooksLikeCesare: In his later years, as shown in volume 1 and 13.
* MysteriousBacker: To Liu Bei. [[spoiler:Though it isn't exactly a mystery, Liu Bei has been clued in on his identity ages ago.]]
* NotInThisForYourRevolution: He's known for aiding warlords and igniting multiple wars just to expand his family business. It doesn't please a lot of people, including his friend and subordinate Liaoyuan Huo, and eventually [[spoiler:when the Sima clan (or rather the Handicapped Warriors) are revealed to have been involved on a plot on Cao Cao's life and to mutiny against him, he has the clan purged]].
* OhCrap: [[spoiler: When he realized Pang Tong's plan had backfired on him and his family.]]
* OpenSecret: His TheStarscream gambit above in the quote? It was first relayed by Liaoyuan Huo to Zhuge Liang, then Xun Yu, through Zhuge Liang, knows it. Guo Jia correctly guesses it and Jia Xu, through Guo Jia, knows it as well. While he doesn't grasp the details, Cao Cao also suspects it. In other words, the one he's planning to overthrow and the three greatest obstacles to that plan of overthrowing now knows exactly what he's up to. His worth as a [[TheChessmaster Chessmaster]] is [[CantKillYouStillNeedYou the only thing that keeps him alive for the moment]].
* PetTheDog: He can be a dick to a lot of people, but Sima Yi truly cares about the welfare of his family and those he considers friends, for self-serving purposes or no. So far, we've seen him [[AFriendInNeed helping out old friends like the Chen family and Wang Yun]], [[BenevolentBoss pardoning Liaoyuan Huo's blunders many times]] [[NiceJobBreakingItHero (granted, he was also at faults in some occasions)]], or [[ShooTheDog even cutting ties with his business partners and the Crippled Legion when things turned sour so that they wouldn't be dragged down into his mess]].
* RefusalOfTheCall: The beginning narration stated that he had repeatedly had a dream which prophesied his and his sons's ruling of the Wei empire and lording over Cao Cao's descendants, which was, in true prophetic dream style, as obvious about his destiny as obviousness can get, but he refused to think much about it. Liaoyuan Huo is convinced his strategic brilliance can be used for good, but he isn't interested. [[spoiler: He no longer refuses the call [[TheCallKnowsWhereYouLive after his clan was exterminated]].]]
** Well, he had an intention of usurping Cao Cao before that, as evidenced by his early talk with Zhuge Liang. He just also had that sweet illusion that everything will always go his way, and his goal might be achieved without a real personal cost. Also, said dream also prophesied his best friend killing him, so that might have been another reason to not hurry the events.
** Back in volume 13 when he met Zhuge Liang, the usurpation idea was still all talk and there was no sign that it was specifically aimed at any warlord, though. The Sima clan wasn't officially in league with Cao Cao and Cao Cao was still a rising minor power, hardly "the villain destined to unite the land" as was later obviously shown.
* ShootTheDog: [[spoiler:When Xiao Meng botched his final atttempt on Cao Cao's life and doomed himself in the process, he decided to pull the trigger by ordering Jia Kui to exploit the Cao soldiers' hatred of eunuches so that Cao Cao would be pressured to publicly execute Xiao Meng on the spot. In his defense, it might also be seen as a MercyKill since Xiao Meng was already at the verge of death and living any longer would just guarantee him further tortures at Cao Cao's hands.]]
* StartOfDarkness: [[spoiler:What happens to his family in volume 25]] was the birth of the man who would go on to topple Cao Cao's empire and whose bloodline eradicated the Shu and Wu kingdoms.
* SymbolMotifClothing: A phoenix emblem can be spotted in his clothing.
* TemptingFate: Agreed to the allegiance with Cao clan because he thought he would be able to deal with Cao Cao's extortions. [[spoiler:Turned out he couldn't.]]
* TheChosenOne: The titular phoenix who will be the eventual winner of this war.
* TheStrategist: Duh.
* TheTrickster
* TrueNeutral -> [[spoiler:NeutralNoLonger]]
* UnderstandingBoyfriend: To Shan Wu Ling, whose [[MagnificentBastard Magnificent Bitch]] tendencies are rather too hard for many men to swallow.
* UnholyMatrimony: With said beautiful, intelligent and equally unscrupulous Shan Wu Ling.
-->'''Zhang Lei:''' A match made in heaven... a dog and his bitch.
* UnwittingPawn: Pang Tong's [[spoiler:for his chain stratagem gambit in volume 23-24]].
* WorthyOpponent: To the Eight Geniuses.
* YoungAndInCharge: He's been in charge of family business since his teens and brought it unprecedented fame and wealth with incredible foresights and ingenious schemes.

!!The Crippled Legion
The most famous - and widely reputed to be the most fearsome - assassin squad of the current age, placed under the control of Sima clan and Sima Yi. They consist of [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin handicapped fighters]], who weaponize their handicaps and [[GenreSavvy take advantage of the fact that people tend to underestimate the disabled]] to carry out their missions, with a success rate close to 100%. Their leader is the notorious "one-eyed leader", [[spoiler: currently]] Liaoyuan Huo. Other members are Guo Ang (whose handicap is an amputated arm), Zhang Lei (whose handicap is an amputated leg), and Xiao Meng (who is an eunuch). Another is San Chuan, a muted assassin who rarely appears.

[[spoiler: They were partially disbanded after Xiao Meng went MIA during a mission and Liaoyuan Huo left to find him. With Guo Ang's death during the Sima clan extermination and Xiao Meng's death in Xiapi, the Crippled Legion ceased to function as a group, although the remaining lone member still acts under Sima Yi's command.]]

* '''''BadassCrew''''': [[spoiler:Alas, no more.]]
* BattleButler: Quite possibly a given status of each member. They place high in the hierarchy of family servants, shown by how they're normally adressed as senior servants by others.
* BashBrothers
* BerserkButton: San Chuan, the Japanese assassin, will launch at whoever laughs derisively (or seems to do so) at Sima Yi.
* BigDamnHeroes: Whenever Sima Yi assigns them on a rescue mission. The biggest, damnedest of them all is of course Liaoyuan Huo.
* [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu Did You Just Punch Out Lu Bu]]
* TheDragon
* DespairEventHorizon: [[spoiler:Crossed it when Xiao Meng goes missing and Liaoyuan Huo runs off to search for him.]]
* [[spoiler: DwindlingParty]]
* EyepatchOfPower: Is a RedBaron for the leader of the squad, also his trademark looks. It can be misleading to outsiders, because the current leader is not blinded at all. [[spoiler: It's actually a physical trait of the 1st generation leader, ''the'' original legendary one-eyed assassin.]]
* GenreSavvy: Look at their MO. [[spoiler: It was the 1st generation leader who advocated it.]]
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Liaoyuan Huo [[spoiler:who is Zhao Yun]], Xiao Meng [[spoiler:who is Diao Chan]] and Guo Ang [[spoiler: who fathered Guo Huai, later to be a famous general of Cao Wei empire.]]
* LivingLegend: They are to assassins what [[WorldsStrongestMan Lu Bu]] is to [[OneManArmy one-man-armies]].
* LosingTheTeamSpirit: [[spoiler: After Xiao Meng went MIA.]]
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: Inverted - a handicapped bunch isn't what you want to call your most powerful assassin squad, but played straight in that they're such a force to reckon with that people really do piss themselves from the mere mention of their name.
* OneManArmy: Save for Xiao Meng, each of the Legion member can be qualified as one, especially Liaoyuan Huo.
* ProfessionalKiller
* TeamSpirit: And how! It's even one of their combo technique, which gives ''Lu Bu'' a hard time.
* TheMole: Xiao Meng and Liaoyuan Huo in the Dong Zhuo arc. [[spoiler: The leader succeeding Liaoyuan Huo, Xu Ding, is one for Cao Cao.]]
* TheSmurfettePrinciple: Kind of averted with Xiao Meng, who is technically not female.
* TheVoiceless: San Chuan, the assassin who normally serves as Sima Yi's bodyguard.
* TrueCompanions

!!Liaoyuan Huo/Zhao Huo/[[spoiler: Zhao Yun]]
[[quoteright:225:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/1309870469_9999.jpg]]
-> ''"I wait for the moment [[TitleDrop the fiery phoenix scorches the plains]]."''

The young leader of the Crippled Legion and a friend to the Sima clan's young head, Sima Yi. Liaoyuan Huo is an assassin with prodigious fighting skills and an unique handicap that makes him one of the strongest warriors in the story. Unlike the amoral Sima Yi, Liaoyuan Huo is a very righteous man who values justice and, despite their strong friendship, hates Sima Yi's indifference to the world's chaotic state. He's also discontented with the life of an assassin, but nevertheless stays unwavered in his loyalty to the clan and commitment to his comrades, whom he treasures. The 'fire' that 'scorches the plains' (the three characters 火 'huo' and 燎原 'liao yuan') in the series title refers to him.

[[spoiler:He's also Zhao Yun, later to be one of the Five Tiger General of the kingdom Shu led by Liu Bei. Following the destruction of Sima clan, he serves Liu Bei as a part of Sima Yi's vengeance {{plan}} on Cao Cao - to help Sima Yi create the strongest enemy possible for Cao Cao, so that Sima Yi can have a chance to rise to prominence through proving himself in campaigns and overthrow Cao Cao in the end.]]

* AFatherToHisMen
* TheAtoner
* '''{{Badass}}''': Deserves special mention for the healthy amount of CrowningMomentOfAwesome he's responsible for in the series. [[spoiler: And also for being Zhao Yun.]]
** AsskickingEqualsAuthority
** CombatPragmatist: He always aims for the leader of the opposing charge, as nothing breaks army morale than having a leader killed in their midst.
** CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass: He played up the "moron" part in the hostage rescue arc (volume 1-5) to fool Sun Shu and Yuan Fang, but out of their sight and he immediately returned to being the badass he was. [[spoiler:Case in point: He and Sun Shu were cornered by 15 low-ranked generals of the Ministry of Military right in the middle of their homebase. Shu tried to fight back, but bit off more than she could chew and was about to be raped. Then whoop! ''In a matter of seconds'', from the moment a signboard touched the ground until it completely fell over and revealed the carnage, Huo killed all 15 generals by their own swords and his little kunais, then threw the sword to a vase-seller, who ran away at the sight of him and caused Sun Shu to mistake that guy to be her savior.]]
** CurbStompBattle
** FeelNoPain: His handicap, responsible for his ImplacableMan status and the [[NoOneShouldSurviveThat flabbergasted and horrifed]] [[WhyWontYouDie reactions]] of anyone who has ever fought him.
** FoeTossingCharge: As required of an OneManArmy in Ravages.
** FutureBadass: Yes, even more badass than he already has been, [[spoiler:as general Zhao Yun.]]
** GeniusBruiser: You know he got the genius when he's promoted to the leader position of '''the most dangerous assassin squad in the world''' in his teens.
** HandicappedBadass: Though to be fair, we're yet to see a negative effect to his handicap, except that it steadies his feet on the battleground when he should have quit long ago.
** HeroicWillpower: Sometimes it's not his handicap that keeps him running (and to get it run out of, you need troubles on Lu Bu's magnitude), but this which pulls him back up for another round.
** ImprobableWeaponUser: When he gets serious, he likes to toss some-inches-long kunais at the enemies with deadly accuracy and very impressive sound effects (hell, he can even ''fatally spit'' them at his opponents). He can use a ''hoe'' and still kicks BIG asses.
** SubmissiveBadass
** SuperSenses: In particular, his hearing, which is also incredibly good at picking up (fake) accents.
** SuperToughness: You've gotta admit not even his FeelNoPain handicap can carry him so far in battles if he himself isn't already MadeOfIron.
** TookALevelInBadass: More like, jumps and leaps levels in badass.
** TranquilFury: ''Oops''. [[spoiler:Run, Yuan Tan, run.]]
* [[spoiler:BecomingTheMask]]: In chapter 386 when [[spoiler:to quote his teacher Liu Da, "Liu Bei's pretentiousness has rubbed off on [him]," as Liaoyuan Huo kills the swordsman holding Lady Gan hostage at Changban, explaining his preference for "the wealth of sagely words" to "the wealth of gold as inheritance"]], then in the next chapter [[spoiler:fights his way through Liu Da's men to get to Liu Da before stabbing him ''through'' Lady Mi, to snatch Adou from Liu Da's grasp]]. After [[spoiler:Lady Mi absolves him for mortally wounding her]], the chapter concludes with him vowing to protect the Liu family -- referring to himself as [[spoiler:Zhao Yun]].
* ChickMagnet: Sun Shu's smitten with him, and Xiao Meng (who's technically not a chick) is deeply in love with him. He seems to be quite popular with the courtesans in Luyang, as well.
* ChronicHeroSyndrome: Indulges this. Sometimes it works out well, but other times it leads to dire consequences. [[spoiler:Such as when he aided the Xuzhou defense against Cao Cao's campaign and thus gave Cao Cao the clue and evidence he needed of the ties between Sima clan and Crippled Legion]]. Or [[spoiler:when he stayed to fight alongside 'Sun Ce' against an army of hostile rebels, which turned out to be for naught as 'Sun Ce' was still killed and he was not even the ''real'' Sun Ce. The Crippled Legion also suffered severe loss, including Xiao Meng going MIA, to get him out of this mess alive.]]
* ConflictingLoyalty: What he's slowly realizing that he will have to face - between his righteous lord, Liu Bei and his true master, Sima Yi, though [[[spoiler:in chapter 387 he seems to decisively turn towards Liu Bei... or at the very least, he seems to make this turn as far as Liu Da believes, anyway]].
* DespairEventHorizon: Crosses it twice [[spoiler:when Xiao Meng went missing and during the Sima clan's extermination.]]
* {{Determinator}}
* DreamingOfThingsToCome: Turns out he has one as well, [[spoiler: the same one Sima Yi has, in fact]]. [[spoiler: He's the monster who kills Sima Yi in that dream.]]
* TheFettered
* {{Foil}}: To Sima Yi's immoral business-oriented mind.
* FutileHandReach: [[spoiler: His famous scene of parting with Xiao Meng.]]
* [[spoiler:HeartbrokenBadass]]: For a short while, [[spoiler:after Xiao Meng's death.]]
* [[spoiler:HeelFaceTurn]]: [[spoiler:He finally makes the turn in chapter 386 and 387, when he decides he's too fed up with the life of an assassin with no future and the absence of morals in Sima Yi's philosophy and constant exposure to Liu Bei's righteousness has finally convinced him that GoodFeelsGood, with BigDamnHeroes style in keeping with CrowningMomentOfAwesome standards to boot: he defies his JerkAss teacher Liu Da and saves Liu Bei's son in the process... albeit by running Lady Mi through in order to stab Liu Da's shoulder so as to prove that he's even more ruthless than Liu Da. That said, given his history with the Sima family and years of treating Sima Yi like a brother, it still comes as a tear-jerking decision for him.]]
* HeroicBystander: All too often, and see ChronicHeroSyndrome to know why he should have just left others to their business.
* HeroicVow: [[spoiler:"Zhao Yun... swears to protect the Liu clan"]] - and thus starts his legend at [[spoiler:Changban slope]].
* HitmanWithAHeart
* HoYay: He knows Xiao Meng is an eunuch but treats him like a girl, and Xiao Meng is deeply in love with him.
** The novel also implies that he was pretty much [[ObliviousToLove oblivious to Xiao Meng's and his own feelings]], until things went down the hill.
* IHaveManyNames: [[spoiler: He finally settles for Zhao Yun, a name Liu Bei gives him.]]
* IWillFindYou: To [[spoiler: Xiao Meng]]. [[spoiler: But he will be too late.]]
* LastKiss: With [[spoiler:Xiao Meng]] in volume 18.
* MeaningfulEcho: Not exactly the line, but the context in which it's spoken - [[spoiler:"May your beautiful dream come true, Young Master"]].
* MeaningfulName: 'Huo' means 'fire', one of the overarching themes of the entire series (besides being an eponymous character).
** MeaningfulRename: See IHaveManyNames above.
* TheMole: Is one for Sima Yi on Liu Bei's side. However, given his ConflictingLoyalty and what we already know will become of his friendship with Sima Yi, it seems to be only a matter of time until he drops this act for good. [[spoiler:Which he finally did at Changban slope.]]
* MrFanservice
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: [[spoiler: When he realized that by accepting the job to assassinate Cao Cao, he had played right into Pang Tong's hand and doomed the Sima clan to their death.]]
* MyMasterRightOrWrong
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: Sima Yi's own faulty judgements aside, it was his heroic, but thoughtless, meddlings that ultimately effected [[spoiler: the Sima clan's downfall]].
* OpenSecret: Liu Bei & co. suspects, and Zhuge Liang knows, that he follows Liu Bei under some unscrupulous designs courtesy of Sima Yi.
* ThePromise: Sima Yi's accountability [[spoiler:in Xiao Meng's death]] notwithstanding, he would still abide by his young master's plan and set Liu Bei up to be Cao Cao's greatest enemy, thus providing Sima Yi the career advancement opportunities he needs. [[spoiler:And he will see to it that Sima Yi's prophetic dream come true in the end.]]
* SixthRanger: To team Liu Bei later on, and stays with them for good [[spoiler:after the Sima clan massacre.]]
* [[spoiler: StreetUrchin]]: [[spoiler: Was one, before he was taken in by the 1st generation leader of the Crippled Legion.]]
* UnstoppableRage: [[spoiler:His response to the Yuan generals' trampling on Xiao Meng's remains. Cue ass-kicking and a stupendous display of badassery that sent Yuan Tan's ''fucking army'' running for their lives.]]
* [[spoiler:UnwittingPawn]]: [[spoiler:Became Pang Tong's in volume 23, much to his horror upon realization in volume 24.]]
* TomatoSurprise: [[spoiler:He is the monster on flame we saw killing Sima Yi in chapter one. The dream turned out to be prophetic of their mutual fates.]]
* [[spoiler:WeUsedToBeFriends]]
* WhatTheHellHero: [[spoiler:To Sima Yi for betraying Xiao Meng and causing his death.]]
* YouAreWorthHell: To Xiao Meng.
* YoungAndInCharge: People finds it hard to believe that young as he is, he can be the leader of the Crippled Legion. They're convinced the moment he shows off his skills.

!!Xiao Meng/[[spoiler: Diao Chan]]
[[quoteright:246:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/566295_4410.jpg]]
-> ''"[[DudeLooksLikeALady Call me a girl]] and [[BerserkButton I will kill you]]."''

The archer of the Crippled Legion and an eunuch. His feminine beauty gives him great advantage when acting as a spy, but he's very sensitive about it and reacts violently to whoever touches upon the subject of his gender. [[spoiler:It was during a mission to spy on Dong Zhuo that he adopted the name 'Diao Chan', thus linking his existence to one of the most famous women (although fictitious) of Chinese history]]. Like Liaoyuan Huo, Xiao Meng considers the other Crippled assassins his family and cherishes not-so-brotherly affections for Liaoyuan Huo.

[[spoiler:He went MIA during a mission, and ended up in Lu Bu's camp. Manipulated by Lu Bu to assassinate Cao Cao in accordance with Pang Tong's scheme, Xiao Meng, together with Liaoyuan Huo, unwittingly brought about the Sima clan's demise at the hands of Cao Cao. Desperate for vengeance, he aided Lu Bu in resistance to Cao Cao's Xuzhou campaign, and when Lu Bu failed, proceeded to again make an attempt on Cao Cao's life. Due to Sima Yi's betrayal, he failed and was subjected to a brutal execution, but a glimpse of foresight at Sima Yi's long-term sheme just before dying allowed him to rest in peace. However, his death greatly aggravated Liaoyuan Huo and enlarged the rift between him and Sima Yi, which ironically was the very opposite of his dying wish.]]

* AttractiveBentGender: He's disguised himself as [[spoiler: Diao Chan, one of the four famous ancient beauties of China.]]
* BerserkButton: Just try calling him "sister".
* BrokenBird: He struggles with crippling inferiority complex and gender identity disorder, reveals in a flashback that in his teens he occasionally abused drugs to cope with the ensuing depression, and that's not including the romantic feelings for a family member that he has bottled up for a long time yet cannot let them out. Oh, and then that family member decides to get married to another woman, who loses no time to rub it into his face. [[spoiler:Then his adoptive family are murdered as a result of a blackmail scheme he was unintentionally a part of]]. It's no wonder that by the end of Lu Bu's story arc, Xiao Meng has become a DeathSeeker.
* CallBack: [[spoiler:The scene where Xiao Meng left his comrades for good: stabbed by multiple spears, falling off a high cliff while trying to take an enemy with him, before his eyes was Liaoyuan Huo trying to reach out for him but couldn't is exactly how he goes out at the end of Lu Bu arc: falling from the rooftop of White Gate Tower in the midst of an assassination attempt on Cao Cao, one of the last thing he saw is an illusion of Liaoyuan Huo jumping to catch him.]]
** It's no coincidence that in the panel where Xiao Meng thinks "Debts must be repaid", the rest of the panel consists of the snarling face of [[spoiler:"Blind Xiahou" Dun]], who'd just [[spoiler:shot Xiao Meng with a thrown spear]], with [[spoiler:the eyepatch that he wears due to Xiao Meng having shot out his left eye]] clearly visible.
* CannotSpitItOut: He loves Liaoyuan Huo, but is so conscious of his body's condition that he's convinced they will not have a chance together. [[spoiler:Sharing a LastKiss is the closest he can ever communicate his feelings to Huo.]]
* [[spoiler: CruelAndUnusualDeath]]: [[spoiler: His final assassination attempt on Cao Cao failed. He's stabbed in the stomach by a thrown lance from Xiahou Dun, falls from a tower, gets stripped half-naked by Cao Cao's soldiers, then Cao Cao kills him and his body is skewered and minced under dozens of spear. Ouch.]]
** [[spoiler:GoryDiscretionShot]]: [[spoiler:The author was merciful to make it largely a DeadHandShot, but the scene of Xiao Meng's hand raised amidst a dozen spears skewering his body is enough nightmare.]]
** [[spoiler:ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice]]
* [[spoiler:DoomedByCanon]]: [[spoiler:Being Diao Chan means he would no longer be around after Lu Bu's arc.]]
* DudeLooksLikeALady
* DudeMagnet
* EnemyMine: [[spoiler:He allied with Lu Bu in Cao Cao's 2nd Xuzhou campaign.]]
* EvenTheGuysWantHim: As said, [[spoiler: he's Diao Chan]], though to be fair, most of the guys infatuated with him (Dong Zhuo, his sons and nephew, etc.) [[DudeLooksLikeALady do not know he's male]]. However, knowing he's one doesn't make less heads turned at the sight of his beauty, or stop Liaoyuan Huo and Lu Bu from having the hots for him.
* FemmeFatale: His [[spoiler: Diao Chan]] persona.
* FriendToAllChildren: He's the nanny of Sima Yi's little brothers, who are very fond of him (and calls him [[BerserkButton sis]]). [[spoiler: Even Lu Bu's little daughter liked him, and thought he smelled like her late mom.]]
* GoOutWithASmile: Though it doesn't stick. [[spoiler:The second time, however, is nothing so pretty.]]
* HelloNurse and StupidSexyFlanders: Produces these effects on every males he meets so effectively that not even Lu Bu is immune, much to his chagrin.
* [[spoiler:KilledToUpholdTheMasquerade]]: [[spoiler: Sorry Xiao Meng, Sima Yi can't save you this time. He orders his Dragon to set up your death because he still has to play nice to Cao Cao for the sake of his long-term revenge.]]
* IfItsYouItsOkay: He absolutely hates being called a girl, but he's overjoyed when Liaoyuan Huo does it [[spoiler: in their parting moment.]]
* ImprobableAimingSkills: As to be expected of someone whose teacher can do somersaults in mid-air and shoot accurately at the same time.
* ImprobableWeaponUser: He can make a makeshift set of arrow and bow from ''hair clips''.
* [[spoiler: KillTheCutie]]
* [[spoiler: LetThemDieHappy]]: [[spoiler: He could have died with the regrets of having failed to avenge the Sima clan, but the well-timed appearance of Jia Kui, Sima Yi's infamous [[TheDragon dragon]], made him realize that Sima Yi had not lost the will to pursue revenge. His last thought indicated that he did not blame Sima Yi, and that he died in peace.]]
* MasterPoisoner
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: [[spoiler: Briefly, when he realized that his futile attempt to kill Cao Cao could have risked the entire Sima clan being endangered again and foiling Sima Yi's plan for revenge. He was glad to know that it didn't.]]
* ReplacementGoldfish: In the novel Xiao Meng, the child Xiao Meng was adopted by two influential eunuches in the court because he looked like an Emperor's concubine one of the eunuches had feelings for. Also, Lu Bu's daughter adores him because he smells like her mother and she senses that her father likes him too.
* RevengeBeforeReason: This mentality of Xiao Meng coupled with his mistrust in Sima Yi and a blatant DeathSeeker tendency prevent him from ever uniting with the people he loves. [[spoiler:Case in point: he has many chances to find his way back to Sima Yi, especially after Lu Bu is besieged at Xiapi and his soldiers are fleeing, but instead he chooses to stay with Lu Bu. When Cao Cao enters Xiapi, it's another chance to find Sima Yi and shares his thoughts about the revenge, instead he goes off assassinating Cao Cao solo. At the top of White Gate tower where everyone can see him. With Cao Cao's bodyguards present. It ends as well as you expect.]]
* ShootTheShaggyDog: [[spoiler:Believing Sima Yi has given up on revenge for the Sima family, Xiao Meng decides to assassinate Cao Cao in broad daylight as his last duty to the clan. Only, Cao Cao still lives, he fails to get anything done, gets mortally injured and falls into Cao Cao's hands. Even worse is that we know (and he quickly realizes later) that regardless of whether the kill succeeds or not, by merely attempting it he can make things worse for Sima Yi since Sima Yi ''has'' a plan for revege, a plan so long-term that it requires him to bend his knees to Cao Cao and any tricky move on Xiao Meng's part would cost everyone's lives. Sima Yi barely manages to avert the ShootTheShaggyDog scenario going into full effect when he tips Cao Cao of the assassination to exempt himself from further suspicions and Jia Kui incites the soldiers to call for Xiao Meng's execution on the spot, which might be some sort of consolation for Xiao Meng, but at the end of the day Xiao Meng still dies a pretty shaggy dog's death that he could have avoided simply by having a little more faith in his master and bothering to contact him before trying anything.]]
* SoBeautifulItsACurse: Xiao Meng would probably be a lot happier about himself if he didn't look like a girl (or rather, more beautiful than a girl) that much.
* SugarAndIcePersonality
* [[spoiler:TakingYouWithMe]]: [[spoiler:Tried this to Gan Ning, during the latter's siege to kill 'Sun Ce' and Liaoyuan Huo, and failed. At the White Gate Tower, he almost did this to Cao Cao, but was thwarted mid-attempt by Xiahou Dun.]]
* TeamMom: Although he will make pincushion of anyone who calls him a girl or even girly-looking, this is what he acts like to the other Crippled Legion members.

!!Zhang Lei

* [[spoiler:ActionSurvivor]]
* [[spoiler:AnArmAndALeg]]: [[spoiler: His handicap went from one to two legs after the fight with Xu Ding.]]
* [[KickChick Kick Dude]]
* {{Determinator}}: During [[spoiler:his last hurrah against Xu Ding]], he has one demand: "[[spoiler:Kneel. Kneel to the dead.]]"
* ParentalSubstitute: To Wang Shuang and Guo Huai [[spoiler:after their fathers' deaths.]]
* [[RedOniBlueOni Blue Oni]]: To Guo Ang's [[RedOniBlueOni Red Oni.]]
* TeamDad
* UndyingLoyalty
* YouAreInCommandNow: [[spoiler:After Liaoyuan Huo left the Sima clan to find Xiao Meng, he was appointed the next leader.]]
* [[spoiler:[[YouKilledMyFather You Killed My True Companion]]]]: [[spoiler:A futile variance, which cost him his remaining leg.]]

!!Guo Ang

* BaldOfAwesome
* [[spoiler:ConversationCasualty]]
* [[spoiler:DeadSidekick]]
* [[spoiler:GoryDiscretionShot]]
* [[OlderThanTheyLook Older Than He Looks]]:[[spoiler: By the time he dies]] He is married and has a son.
* SuperStrength
[[/folder]]

[[folder: The Eight Geniuses]]
[[quoteright:252:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/566595_1242.jpg]]

The [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin eight genius]] military advisors who are students of Sima Hui 'Shuijing' (commonly translated as 'Water-Mirror'), a famous teacher who educated many famous strategists in the previous decades. Their abilities far surpass the common men of this age, and thus their service is much sought after. Whichever warlord faction, no matter how diminutive, is chosen by one of the Eight will soon become a competitive force in the race to conquer and unite China. Once a Genius has chosen a lord, he will take off the mask and uniform (which was designed identically with the purpose of hiding their respective identities) and leave the school.

So far the revealed Geniuses are: Yuan Fang, Xun Yu, Jia Xu, Guo Jia, Zhou Yu, Pang Tong, Zhuge Liang. The Eighth has made very few appearances in the series, and his identity has fueled much fan speculations. Of the Eight, five have picked a master: Yuan Fang who serves the Yuan clan; Xun Yu, Jia Xu and Guo Jia who serve the Cao clan; lastly Zhou Yu who serves the Sun clan. The Sixth Pang Tong and the Seventh Zhuge Liang have expressed their approval of a lord (Liu Bei) but are yet to join him.

Below are tropes applied to the Eight Geniuses:

* AntiHero: The 2nd and 7th Geniuses share many traits of Type II (they have the HeroicSpirit and the will to do good, yet are undoubtedly influenced by [[CrapsackWorld the world they live in]] enough to dispense with any positive outlook), the 3rd and 6th Geniuses are arguably Type III, while the 4th Genius is a straight Type IV. The 1st Genius, who started out as a standard anti-hero, later develops into a ByronicHero/villain of sorts.
* BadassFingerSnap: Seems to be the new fad among the four participants of Guandu.
* '''''TheChessmaster'''''
** ChessmasterSidekick
* CoolMask: Will drop this when they join side with a warlord.
* CrazyPrepared: It's part of their job description.
** Xun Yu's motto is "Eons of cultivation for one moment of utilization".
** Special mentions go to Yuan Fang with his long-term plans for the Northern conquest, Guo Jia for planning for the Guandu showdown 20 volumes before it officially takes place, and Pang Tong for delaying his graduation [[spoiler:to gather warlords for an all-out campaign against Cao Cao]].
** Guo Jia's scheme [[spoiler:planned for Cao Cao's sake before his death]] involves thwarting Sima Yi's predicted insurrection and somehow preventing Zhuge Liang, Pang Tong and Zhou Yu from kicking Cao Cao's ass in Chibi. It's not made clear exactly what's his plan for Chibi, but we know at least that Sima Yi would not revolt for another 42 years.
* CrowningMomentOfAwesome: You could rename the entire manhua into "Eight Geniuses: CMOA the Series" and no one would be able to tell the difference.
* [[spoiler:DwindlingParty]]
* [[CoatHatMask Garb, Hat, Mask]]: Their identical uniform, designed with the purpose of making it impossible for people to tell them apart.
* GenreSavvy: All of them are, but [[DangerouslyGenreSavvy of particularly devastating efficacy]] are Yuan Fang, Jia Xu, Guo Jia and Zhuge Liang.
* GoodIsNotNice: Given how the Geniuses' shared goal is the ultimate peace for the people and how their acts have stabilized the country's condition, they certainly ''are'' a force of good. However, all of them - even the "good guys" like Xun Yu - consider manipulating, deceiving, betraying and/or sacrificing some hundred thousands of lives legitimate means to the accomplishment of said goal. This trope is averted with Yuan Fang, who eventually slips into the territory of an EvilGenius and puts his efforts into [[TakeOverTheWorld something else entirely]].
* KickTheSonOfABitch
* LivingLegend
* [[ManipulativeBastard Manipulative]] and [[MagnificentBastard Magnificent Bastards]]: Any of them can be seen as both by the people they manipulate and the people their manipulations benefit, but so far Guo Jia and Yuan Fang take the cake.
* EstrogenBrigadeBait
* PersonOfMassDestruction: To put it in Yu Ji's words - "In terms of bringing chaos, how are the Eight Geniuses different from the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Attendants Ten Attendants]] ?"
* TheHeavy
* TheManBehindTheMan
* ThePlan: They are the undisputed masters of nearly every possible manifestation of this trope.
* TheStrategist
* TheyJustDontGetIt: All of them have invoked this at least once, because the guys on the receiving end usually don't have the foresights and brilliance to understand their schemes.
* ToWinWithoutFighting: To show off how brilliant they are, each Genius has pulled this off at an earlier point in their career.
** In the Battle at Hulao Gate, Yuan Fang [[spoiler:tricks the Guandong warlords into using up their remaining rations, sacrificing their best generals and facing Lu Bu all on their own, while his army beats a silent retreat.]] This move gives the Yuan a good start in conquering the Northern land.
** In the showdown against Lu Bu at Chang'an, Jia Xu [[spoiler:sacrifices his lords twice to lure Lu Bu into a false sense of security and fall into his trap]]. When the dust settles, Lu Bu barely manages to escape with his life and Jia Xu's army enters Chang'an with ease.
** In the 1st Xuzhou campaign, Guo Jia [[spoiler:massacres tens of thousand of civilians to frighten the surrounding citizens into moving to Xuzhou and eats up Xuzhou's rations.]] By this method, he takes over ten cities for Cao Cao.
** In the Rise of Sun Ce arc, Zhou Yu achieves this for Sun Ce by [[spoiler:setting up Yuan Shu's two generals and Liu Biao against each other by clever manipulation and counter-intelligence]]. Thanks to him, Sun Ce can march to the Eastern region unhindered, while his two archenemies continue to fight and wear each other down.
** In his debut, Pang Tong [[spoiler:manipulates his students and three other warlords to launch a campaign against Cao Cao]]. The plan eventually breaks down, but [[spoiler:Pang Tong's pledged lord Liu Chong, with his force intact and his army morale strong, can now start expanding territory.]]
* WellIntentionedExtremist: They all aspire to bring an end to the endless wars, and are more than willing to wage more wars to achieve it. Yuan Fang breaks out of this tradition when his motives become somewhat [[TakeOverTheWorld more personal]].

!!Yuan Fang
[[quoteright:224:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/0001600x1200_1621.jpg]]
-> ''[[RefusalOfTheCall The lone crane prefers the peace of seclusion]]; [[ResignedToTheCall how could he be heard across the heavens…]]''

The First Genius. A member of the prominent Yuan clan, Yuan Fang's primary goal is to expand his clan's territory in the north, and acts as First advisor to the clan leader Yuan Shao. He is Yuan Shao's illegitimate son, but since his brilliance far surpasses his three half-brothers (Yuan Shao's legitimate sons), Yuan Shao inwardly acknowledges Yuan Fang as the true heir and spares no efforts to strengthen his position within the clan; [[spoiler:he even kills Yuan Fang's childhood sweetheart to force him into a marriage he wants no part of]]. Although Yuan Fang never truly forgives his father for this, over the years he starts to relent to Yuan Shao's plans, and gradually manifests the ambition to take over the clan and overthrow Imperial Han. The course of the story also observes Yuan Fang's transformation into a ruthless man unhesitant to eliminate anyone in his way, even his former classmates.

[[spoiler:He was killed at the end of the Battle of Gushi vs. Cao Cao (year 200) by Yang Qing, a confidante who turned out to be Yang Xiu, Guo Jia's mole and the son of his father's former political rival. Shortly after, Cao Cao and the three Geniuses concealed his death and disposed of his body in secret, thus further aggravating the situation on Yuan side as they were left with no competent leader and uncertainty over Yuan Fang's fate. The truth did not reach Yuan Shao until 202 and his close subordinates some times later, and by then his faction had mostly dissolved.]]

* TheAce: Oh boy is he ever.
** BadassBookworm: He and Zhou Yu are the only ones among the Eight Geniuses who are both strategist and general, which already gives him a definite advantage over "table strategists" like Guo Jia. The author also goes to extensive length to show off his broad knowledge of old military treatises, in the midst of battles no less.
** BeatThemAtTheirOwnGame: Displayed in all its glory in Guandu. [[spoiler:He beat his three underclassmen, each of them a genius, in their playing fields - Xun Yu was stuck dealing with countless insiders in the court and the Cao clan that Fang has planted beforehands, Jia Xu was delayed by the insurrection in Runan he was supposed to have taken care of thanks to Fang's incitement, Guo Jia got his ass handed to him right in their first battle on account of Fang's sheer superior tactical genius, and Sima Yi the spy was tricked by Fang's counterintelligence gambit and brought back a sacrifical mole.]] ''But'' he just also happens to be a classic example of winning the battle but losing the whole war, [[spoiler:since Guo Jia already planted a mole by his side ''waaaaaaaaaaay'' back then, who is now his most trusted confidante. Who killed him as soon as the Battle of Guandu is over.]]
** CrowningMomentOfAwesome: Pretty much every battle he participates in, in or outside the battlefield. [[spoiler:Though in the battle of Gushi, his victory was followed by something much different..]]
** CurbStompBattle: Thanks to his army's massive number advantage, one's almost always guaranteed. But the elimination of Guandong alliance, the pre-Guandu anti-Gongsun Zan campaign and the entire Guandu arc show that it's his brilliant strategies that win half the fight.
** OffscreenMomentOfAwesome: During a few months that we never got to see, he turned the Guandong warlords against each other and obliterated all but one of them. Gongsun Zan's final defeat at his hands got the same treatment, [[spoiler:and apparently the entire ordeal was bad enough to mind-break the once-proud warlord, drove him to murder his family, commit suicide, and curse Fang as the "demon king" in his last breaths.]]
** [[OmnidisciplinaryScientist Omnidisciplinary Strategist]]: Extremely adept at warfare and politics ? Check. Well-versed in an esoteric battle formation that overpowers Sun Tzu's [[TheArtOfWar Art of War]] and nearly every offensive tactics ever recorded to last him three months on the attacks against Cao Cao's camps ? Check. Honor student of Shuijing, teacher of many famous strategists [[spoiler:and Zuo Ci, one of the Eight Eccentrics and a leader of Taiping cult]]? Check. People, meet the First of the Eight Geniuses.
** SmugSuper: He looks down on Sun Tzu's teachings and its learners, and will not give up a chance to tell them how much better his choice of military teachings are. [[spoiler:Backed up. He knows the Feng Hou Eight Diagram Position formation, and if you've read [[RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms the novel]] or watched [[RedCliff the movie]] and are aware of its fame as Zhuge Liang's ''invincible'' formation, you know shit's coming.]]
** TeenGenius: In a flashback, a teenage Fang was shown beating Sun Jian and his generals in a mock game of battle, with Sun Jian's side using Sun Tzu's tactics.
* [[spoiler:AlasPoorVillain]]
* AnimalMotif: The crane.
* BeautyMark
* BigBad: Of the Guandu arc.
* BreakTheCutie: All he ever wanted was to not give a damn about his father's EvilPlan and live out his life with the woman he loved. Cue said father killed the girl and jump-started his StartOfDarkness.
* BreakTheHaughty
* CallingTheOldManOut
* ChildhoodFriendRomance
* DragonInChief
* [[spoiler:DeathByGenreSavviness]]: [[spoiler:He was the only one who's ever seen through Sima Yi's FakeDefector scheme, and it backfired horribly for him.]]
* DidntSeeThatComing: [[spoiler: Sorry Yuan Fang, this time Sima Yi is not TheMole.]]
* [[spoiler:DoomedByCanon]]: [[spoiler:WordOfGod states that since Fang doesn't exist in history and RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms, he will have to disappear after Guandu.]]
* [[spoiler:FailureIsTheOnlyOption]]: [[spoiler:For all his brilliance, his plans went up in smoke without an exception.]]
* GoneHorriblyRight: [[spoiler:He prepared for the takeover of the clan by inciting hostility among the potential heirs, Yuan Tan and Yuan Shang, to wear their forces out. When he was no longer around to keep them in check, the tension escalates to uncontrollable height and leads to the clan's defeat.]]
* '''{{Jerkass}}''': Seriously, between him and [[NecessarilyEvil Guo]] [[{{Jerkass}} Jia]], Guo Jia is the lesser of the two devils.
** '''''ChronicBackstabbingDisorder''''': Many (if not all) of Fang's schemes involve him making moves which seem to be in his allies' favors, but turn out to be backstabbings of the most vicious kind in disguise and make [[TheStarscream Lu Bu]] look tame in comparison.
** IShallTauntYou
** KickTheDog
** TookALevelInJerkass: And he continues to take them throughout the events that lead to the Battle of Guandu. By Guandu, he's a full-fledged {{Jerkass}} [[IceQueen Ice King]], and becomes Cao Cao's, the three Geniuses' and Sima Yi's most dangerous opponent to date.
** [[spoiler: [[WouldHitAGirl Would Kill A Girl]]]]: [[spoiler:And his classmates. And his brothers. ''And'' his father.]]
* KillEmAll: The fates of the warlords of Guandong faction at his hands. In the battle of Guandu, this is his plan for [[spoiler:his father, three half-brothers and Cao Cao]], by [[spoiler:luring the first three to gather in one place and the last one in another, then he burned them both up.]]
* [[spoiler:KilledOffForReal]]
** [[spoiler: GoOutWithASmile]]: [[spoiler: In his last moments, he saw the ghost of his sweetheart Xiao Cha [[TogetherInDeath return to take him with her]].]]
** [[spoiler:DiedInYourArmsTonight]]
** [[spoiler: DueToTheDead]]: [[spoiler: After it was recovered, his body was properly taken care of in a funeral pyre arranged by Xun Yu, Guo Jia and Jia Xu. Bittersweetness ensued as they reflected on what Yuan Fang's ending foreshadowed for the future of the Eight Geniuses and bid him farewell, their enmity entirely burned away by the fire.]]
* LightIsNotGood: White-haired, white-robed, and a backstabbing [[spoiler:patriacidal]]-[[spoiler:fratricidal]] [[TheChessmaster Chessmaster]].
* MurderTheHypotenuse: His own lover was a victim of this trope, and God knows it, [[TheMourningAfter Yuan Fang]]'s not averse to pulling it again if another marriage offer comes along.
* OutGambitted: [[spoiler:By Guo Jia when it comes to planting [[TheMole moles]].]]
* ThePlan: His crowning ones are the Guandong faction vs. Dong Zhuo arc [[spoiler: in which he ultimately turned every defeats of the Guandong faction, mainly suffered by other minor warlords, into critical strategic advantages for his clan]]. In the Battle of Guandu, he pulls another, on an infinitely more epic scale, that can give Pang Tong a run for his money. [[spoiler:Had it succeeded, it would have resulted in the simultaneous removal of his greatest obstacles (his father, half-brothers and Cao Cao), the union of Yuan clan and the victory against Cao Cao's faction]]. And note that in the events after [[spoiler: his death]], it was revealed that he had [[XanatosGambit even accounted for the probability of his plans being foiled]], and had calculated so that even then, there would be no harm done to him and his opposing factions would shoulder all the blame.
* ParentalFavoritism: Yuan Shao favors him the most out of all his sons, as he considers Yuan Fang the most capable of them all.
* PreachersKid: [[InvokedTrope Invoked]] as Type 2 - he's supposed to be the immoral bastard son that overthrows the three-generation-loyalist tradition of Yuan clan that Yuan Shao, his father, advocates. To anyone who knows better, the preacher and the kid in this case are more like birds of a feather.
* PrideBeforeAFall: He was first introduced as the mastermind behind the Guandong hostage rescue mission and his plans performed outstandingly enough [[spoiler:until Dong Zhuo and Lu Bu successively countered all of them, and then Sima Yi topped it off by countering Dong Zhuo and Lu Bu with a well-timed move from a well-planted mole - Liaoyuan Huo]]. It happens again in the climax of Guandu, [[spoiler:and this time it's a literal, fatal fall.]]
* ResignedToTheCall: He's never really that interested in taking over the Yuan clan (or China, for that matter), but due to circumstances and Yuan Shao's manipulations, gradually yields to this idea.
* StarCrossedLovers: With Xiao Cha.
* StartOfDarkness: The death of his sweetheart, Xiao Cha, is one for him.
* TheMourningAfter
* TheStarscream: To Yuan Shao, and it's no secret between them.
* TooCleverByHalf: ''Big'' time, and he pays dearly for it. [[spoiler:When Sima Yi offered to be his mole and assist the Yuan clan from inside Cao Cao's ranks, he immediately knew Sima Yi is playing the FakeDefector card again, and employed appropriate countermeasures. What he failed to take into account is, Guo Jia had sent Sima Yi precisely because he actually counted on Yuan Fang to make that deduction and focus on handling Sima Yi, while the true [[TheMole Mole]], Yang Qing, was able to operate without inhibitions. The results? Thanks to everyone's attentions completely being diverted to Sima Yi, Yang Qing successfully burned the Yuan army's rations and assassinated Yuan Fang, ensuring a decisive victory for Cao Cao.]]
* {{Tykebomb}}: One that Yuan Shao had prepared for the takeover of Yuan clan and China. [[spoiler:Later became a LaserGuidedTykebomb when Fang chose Shao to be among his first victims in the wake of his master plan.]]
* UsedToBeASweetKid
* VillainWithGoodPublicity: He practically tears the Yuan clan apart with the devious schemes to supplant his brothers and the pacifist faction (led by Tian Feng), yet remains very popular to other clansmen thanks to his record-breaking military successes.
* XanatosSpeedChess: Has a remarkable talent for it.
* WhiteHairedPrettyBoy
* WorthyOpponent: Considers ''Zhuge Liang'' his.

!!Xun Yu
[[quoteright:221:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/73790_4441.jpg]]
-> ''"With [[NobleTopEnforcer my guidance]], an anti-hero [[SubvertedTrope would only be Imperial Han’s most loyal minister]]."''

The Second Genius. Xun Yu's true strength is diplomacy, but he's as well-versed in warfare as any of the other Geniuses. From the beginning days of Cao Cao's faction, his benevolent ministry, as opposed to Guo Jia's 'Darkness Ideology' in military affairs, has helped fortify Cao Cao's rule. Thus stems his nickname, 'Zhang Liang', a homage to a famous advisor who aided Liu Bang in the construction of the Han dynasty.

Unlike Guo Jia and Jia Xu, the two Geniuses whose aim is Cao Cao's eventual rule, Xun Yu works toward the restoration of Imperial Han. Believing Cao Cao to be the only one able to achieve this, Xun Yu pledges his loyalty to him, even after Cao Cao's ambitions manifest in Guo Jia's favor. Xun Yu's greatest feats to date are the recruitment of thousands of Yellow Turban's troops and the Emperor's capture, both of which have contributed monumentally to Cao Cao's faction, elevating him to the status of most influential warlord of the land.

* {{Ambadassador}}: With [[BadassFamily his nephew Xun You]].
* BadassPacifist: He's the NiceGuy of the Eight Geniuses who prefers to settle things without bloodshed. Not [[KillEmAll killing and decimating everything in his way]] like Jia Xu or Guo Jia can make it harder for him to get things done, but it doesn't mean his strategies are any less incredibly effective.
* BeautyMark
* BewareTheNiceOnes: He [[ArmorPiercingSlap slapped Sima Yi]] for being a money-hungry warmongerer and totally led Cao Cao by the nose [[spoiler:during the entire Emperor rescue arc in volmume 19]]. People don't cross Xun Yu for a reason.
* BreakTheCutie: By Cao Cao's [[spoiler:massacre of innocents in the 1st Xuzhou campaign]] and Yuan Fang [[spoiler:who shot him on sight in the very 1st battle of Guandu arc]], but he got over both fairly quickly.
* DistressedDude: Gets hit with this more often than the others. He gets kidnapped at the beginning of Xuzhou campaign, then gets shot at the beginning of Guandu campaign [[spoiler:by orders of Yuan Fang]].
* DragonWithAnAgenda: A rare good example. The only reason he serves Cao Cao is because he believes the Emperor (where his true loyalty lies) is young and powerless against the treacherous warlords, and therefore needs a capable vassal to help him unite and administer the country.
* GoodIsNotSoft
* [[spoiler:[[LetThemDieHappy Let Guo Jia Die Happy]]]]
* LongHairedPrettyboy
* NobleTopEnforcer: His people skills and merciful policies gave Cao Cao a good start and raised his status from a defeated warlord to an influential one, and are the reason Cao Cao is so popular with the soldiers and people he conquered.
* PetTheDog: Has more moments of this than all of the other Geniuses combined. Hell, it's his official role in Cao faction.
* ThePlan: [[spoiler:The Emperor escorting arc in volume 19.]]
* [[spoiler:SympathyForTheDevil]]: [[spoiler:He forgave Guo Jia's heinous deeds and conceded to his ideals just before Guo Jia died.]]
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure
* TeethClenchedTeamwork: With Guo Jia at first, since his generous nature simply does not go hand in hand with Guo Jia's habit to massacre millions in his {{plan}}. It was quite one-sided as Xun Yu did most of the teeth-clenching while Guo Jia was totally cool with it. Their partnership significantly improves over time, though. [[spoiler:And they managed to reconcile just before Guo Jia died.]]
* TenMinuteRetirement: :Cao Cao's adoption of Guo Jia's vicious military strategies shocked him into shutting himself away (and being absent for the most part of Xuzhou campaign), but several volumes later he still turned up to help Cao Cao out of a pinch against Lu Bu and Chen Gong.
* TheSocialExpert
* WhatTheHellHero: Nine volumes after the incident, he still chided Cao Cao for his approval of Guo Jia's massacre of Xuzhou.

!!Jia Xu
[[quoteright:221:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/2112dfcce525562893457e90a_265.jpg]]
-> ''"[[WellIntentionedExtremist Darkness]] precedes [[ForGreatJustice the light of dawn]]."''

The Third Genius. A friend of the Fourth Genius Guo Jia, Jia Xu is a fervent believer in the 'Darkness ideology', the belief hailing actions of utmost cruelty, rather than of benevolence, as the ultimate mean to pave way for peace and prosperity. This causes his rupture with the way of justice Shuijing taught, which he deems obsolete, and his premature graduation from the school of Shuijing. He has a positive opinion of ruthless and cunning warlords who have the will to wage wars to bring peace to the people.

[[spoiler:During the course of the story, Jia Xu has served various lords. He was particularly loyal to Dong Zhuo, the Imperial Prime Minister whose inhuman reformist method was the closest to his ideal. After Dong Zhuo died in Lu Bu's usurpation, Jia Xu joined forces with Dong Zhuo's son-in-law Niu Fu and successfully overthrew Lu Bu. Since then he's expressed the intention to join Cao Cao and secretly kept in touch with Guo Jia, but still stayed with the remnants of Dong Zhuo's faction. When Cao Cao's expedition against Lu Bu began, Jia Xu returned and played one of the vital roles in Lu Bu's eventual elimination.]]

* BadassBoast: This guy has a reputation for claiming to accomplish impossible feats with minimal forces and backing them up in ways you cannot believe. In fact it's gone to the point that even ''saying it alone'' is sufficient to scare off his opponents.
* BecauseDestinySaysSo: Believes Cao Cao is favored by Heaven, and it's his fate to serve such a man.
* BrutalHonesty: Just like his [[RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms other]] [[DynastyWarriors incarnations]].
* ButtMonkey: Because he's SurroundedByIdiots [[spoiler: until he joins Cao Cao]], who simply wouldn't take his good advices. He always gets the last laugh.
* DangerouslyGenreSavvy: He's very much aware of the fame surrounding his BadassBoast and ThanatosGambit, and uses it to his advantage [[spoiler:as Lu Bu and Liu Bei learn the hard way]]. His ThanatosGambit is a good example of this trope as well.
* DespairEventHorizon: Crossed it when his lord [[spoiler:Dong Zhuo]] and his sworn brother [[spoiler: Li Ru]] died in Lu Bu's usurpation, having not heeded his advice.
* GetAHoldOfYourselfMan: To Guo Jia, who was too depressed about his declining health to put his tremendous talents to good use. It helped Guo Jia get over it and join Cao Cao's side.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: With Guo Jia.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: [[spoiler:To avenge Dong Zhuo and Li Ru]] He helped the kind of [[StupidEvil Li Jue and Guo Si]] take over Chang'an and approach the young, defenseless Emperor. About ten volumes later, the once prosperous Chang'an could barely hold together, civilians were starved to death and took turns robbing the palace, and the Emperor had to evacuate with court officials.
* ParanoiaGambit: He's been enjoying pulling this lately. Like it much, [[spoiler:Liu Bei]]?
* PetTheDog: After his departure, Jia Xu remained on good terms with Zhang Ji, the only decent leadership figure left in the Dong faction, and accepted Zhang Ji's dying request to take care of his hotheaded nephew Zhang Xiu. Though, it might have something to do with his intention to stabilize the southern front (Zhang Xiu's base) for Cao Cao.
* RevengeBeforeReason: Because for revenge against Lu Bu or not, surely no-one who prioritizes reason will help Li Jue and Guo Si conquer Chang'an and leave the Emperor in their control.
* ThanatosGambit: His trademark move, which thrice has overthrown [[spoiler:Lu Bu]]. [[spoiler:And he didn't even use it the third time, he merely made Lu Bu believe so.]]
* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: Like Guo Jia, a proponent of this trope.

!!Guo Jia
[[quoteright:240:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Ravages_of_Time_v21_001_1338.jpg]]
-> ''"[[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans If you want a revolution]], [[ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight why care about what the world thinks?]]"''

The Fourth Genius. He's praised as the 'King of strategic decisions', a nod to his ability to account for virtually every scenarios possible in his plans. Like his close friend Jia Xu, Guo Jia is also a proponent of the 'Darkness ideology', which hails actions of utmost cruelty, rather than of benevolence, as the ultimate mean to pave way for peace and prosperity. This, while perpetuates his fame as Cao Cao's 'darkness', also strains his relationship with his upperclassman and comrade Xun Yu.

Much to Guo Jia's despair, he is afflicted with a terminal illness (possibly tuberculosis), which dooms him to a premature death. Guo Jia has long since resigned himself to fate, reluctant to enter anyone's service, until Jia Xu persuades him to join Cao Cao, a warlord they both deem worthy of serving. As Cao Cao's right-hand-man, he plays a vital role in expanding the influence of Cao faction, which grows vigorously and quickly equals that of the Yuan clan.

[[spoiler:He finally succumbed to his illness and died in 207, by then having already fulfilled his wish of annihilating the Yuan clan and uniting the North for Cao Cao.]]

* AdaptationalBadass: All the Geniuses are this to some extent, but Guo Jia is especially favored with this treatment. His deeds were impressive in the origial RoTK but nowhere near as numerous and magnificent as they are in Ravages, where almost every status-changing victory of Cao Cao can be credited to him.
* AdaptationalVillainy: He sure as hell wasn't a genocidal freak, knight-templarish brainiac, general jerkass and resident evil genius in Cao Cao's camp back [[RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms there]].
* AnimalMotif: The crow. It has a deeper meaning than the obvious association with death, though, which isn't elucidated until much later.
** RavensAndCrows: His appearances in earlier volumes are sometimes followed by a flock of crows, and a volume cover also portrayed him surrounded by crows.
* AwesomenessByAnalysis: Liaoyuan Huo really should have thunk twice before trying to bluff this guy.
* CallBack: [[spoiler:He dies in the exact same way Jia Xu told him he should during his first appreance in volume 10 - serving the country and Cao Cao 'til the last second, nevermind the fact that his name can be sullied beyond comparison after a lifetime of killing people for his PayEvilUntoEvil justice.]]
* CantKillYouStillNeedYou: What his partnership with Sima Yi boils down to. [[spoiler:He passed it on to Cao Cao.]]
* DangerouslyGenreSavvy
* DarkIsNotEvil: The darkness embodiment of the Eight, and the most selfless martyr for greater goods among them so far.
* {{Determinator}}
* [[spoiler:DiedInYourArmsTonight]]: [[spoiler:In his dying breaths, he was comforted by Xun Yu, who made peace with him, acknowledged the righteousness of his brutality and the magnitudes of his sacrifices (having chosen to become NecessarilyEvil to aid Cao Cao in his world conquest), and died in Xun Yu's arms.]]
** [[spoiler:GoOutWithASmile]]
* TheDragon: To Cao Cao.
* EstablishingCharacterMoment: Hammed his way into the plot by declaring the country is beyond saving except through the worst and cruelest means, then encouraged Cao Cao to frame an innocent administrator as a cause for war, and carried himself with indifference to other's scorns and ridicules through the whole thing.
* FourIsDeath
* GracefulLoser
* HeroWithBadPublicity: Ultimately made out to be one, given his goal and the monstrous deeds he pulled to its accomplishment.
* {{Jerkass}}: Even his officers and colleagues can't stand him sometimes, those cold-blooded murders of innocents being one of the many reasons. He can be worse, if you happen to be Sima Yi.
** JerkassFacade: Rocky as their partnership might be, [[spoiler:Guo Jia genuinely wants to protect Sima Yi, as he appreciates Sima Yi's extraordinary talents and is well-aware that with regards to his capacity to be a "hero in peace", Sima Yi is NotSoDifferent from Cao Cao after all. And it's not a good idea to immediately get rid of the one person who can think on the same page as Zhuge Liang when Guo Jia himself is about to die and Zhuge Liang is teaming up with Pang Tong and Zhou Yu to kick Cao Cao's ass ''hard'' in Chibi.]]
* [[IHaveYourWife I Have Your Family]]: His strategy to keep Sima Yi in reins.
* [[IllGirl Ill Guy]]: with IncurableCoughOfDeath, [[spoiler:which finally claimed his life after 17 years in Cao Cao's service.]]
* MeaningfulName: His style name 'Fengxiao', meaning 'to uphold filial piety', resonates with his characterization at several points in the story. His first advice to Cao Cao (start a campaign on Xuzhou in the name of revenge for Cao Cao's father [[spoiler:who actually died of an illness]]) was a word play on this style name, and his animal motif - the crow - is a rare breed of bird with the habit of feeding its parents, which is therefore a loving and filial bird, and thus perfectly sums up the core of Guo Jia's existence - [[spoiler:a martyr who, sacrificing his name and health, dies serving the country.]]
* MoralEventHorizon: His first advice to Cao Cao was to massacre tens of thousand of people in the first Xuzhou campaign. Xiahou Dun called both him and Cao Cao out, and Xun Yu gets sore with him for a long time. [[spoiler:And it prompted an outraged Zhuge Liang into action.]]
** [[spoiler:He also ordered the murder of Liu Bei's firstborn with the intention of keeping Guan Yu from returning to Liu Bei's side out of shame. Even Cao Cao was somewhat unsettled.]]
* NecessarilyEvil: UpToEleven.
* OutGambitted: [[spoiler:By the combined efforts of Sima Yi and Zhuge Liang in volume 13.]]
* ThePlan: Two for Lu Bu, both occurred in the Xuzhou campaigns. Also the Battle of Guandu, which was basically a game of tit-for-tat between him and Yuan Fang. [[spoiler:He won.]]
* ProperlyParanoid: Regarding [[DragonWithAnAgenda Sima Yi]], which sparks an implicit antagonism between them.
* RefusalOfTheCall: At first, because he believed his illness would kill him before he could accomplish anything. He got over it after Jia Xu gave him a pep talk about how he should try to live his life to the fullest, instead of waiting it out.
* SecretTestOfCharacter: [[spoiler:The real nature of almost every dickish move he pulls on Sima Yi. He needs to know Sima Yi's (facade of) loyalty lasts as long as post-Chibi.]]
* ShootTheDog: He takes it upon himself to be the 'darkness' of Cao Cao and see to it that Cao Cao becomes the villain who conquers the world, leaving Xun Yu to be the 'light' of Cao Cao to set him up as the hero who saves the people, which means he will not hesitate to do this if it's required of him.
* ThanatosGambit: [[spoiler:The details are currently unknown, but it appears to concern nipping Sima Yi's usurpation in the buds and countering team Zhou Yu, Pang Tong and Zhuge Liang in Chibi.]]
* TheExtremistWasRight: Extreme and uncalled for his cruelty might be, Guo Jia still takes most of the credits for Cao Cao's two most illustrious victories. [[spoiler:He died a happy man after knowing the pacifist Xun Yu also admitted it.]]
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized
* TheUnfettered: WordOfGod says this is why out of the Eight, Guo Jia is the worst one to deal with.
* UndyingLoyalty: [[spoiler:So undying that he already planned several gambits to save Cao Cao's life in his future defeat at Chibi. And it's hinted that at least one of them would.]]
* UnusualEyebrows
* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: ''Any'' means. To give you an idea of the extremes he will go to - dude is not above genocide and infanticide.
* {{Workaholic}}
* YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness: To [[spoiler:Sima Yi]] after the Battle of Guandu. [[spoiler:But it turns out to be another, and this time final, SecretTestOfCharacter for Sima Yi.]]
* YourApprovalFillsMeWithShame: To prove that even Guo Jia has some qualms about fighting his former classmates to the death, he did not like it when Cao Cao commented that from an outsider's perspective, the fight between him, Xun Yu, Jia Xu and Yuan Fang (basically, an in-fighting between former classmates) in the Battle of Guandu was a delightful sight to behold.
* YourDaysAreNumbered
* ZeroApprovalGambit

!!Zhou Yu
[[quoteright:243:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/22-a_5449.jpg]]
-> ''"[[ArcWords Heaven is not dead]]. He is just forging a magnificent clan."''

The Fifth Genius. Of all the Geniuses to have made an appearance, Zhou Yu's goal strays the furthest from their common ideal: rather than striving to bring peace to the land, he pledges loyalty to his sworn brother, Sun Ce, and dedicates his genius to the resurrection of the fallen Sun clan [[spoiler:which may or may not imply his intentions to found the future Wu kingdom independent of Imperial Han]]. For this, he's disliked by the Seventh Genius Zhuge Liang, who likens him to Sima Yi, another man of staggering brilliance but without noble ambitions.

Zhou Yu's strength lies in troop deploying and counter-espionage, [[spoiler:the later of which was the basis for his ingenious scheme to turn Yuan Shu's men against each other, tremendously diminishing Yuan Shu's force]]. With his aids, Sun Ce was able to escape safely to the Eastern region and embark on his conquest to regain the old glory of his family. As of now, the Sun clan has almost completely conquered the Eastern land and joined the fray as a rapidly rising power.

* BadassBoast: Of being undefeatable in naval warfare. [[spoiler:The one time Jia Xu attempts to test it, Zhou Yu completely toasts him and his fleets.]]
* BadassBookworm: He's also an admiral, and is trained in combat.
* BadassLonghair
* BrainsAndBrawn: The brains to Sun Ce's brawn. Kind of zigzagged in this case, as Sun Ce being [[GeniusBruiser Sun]] [[MagnificentBastard Ce]], Zhou Yu even admits that sometimes he fails to catch up.
* IdenticalStranger: To Sima Yi, and it doesn't go unnoticed in-universe.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: With Sun Ce, his sworn brother.
* TheLancer: To Sun Ce.
* LongHairedPrettyboy
* MementoMacGuffin: [[spoiler:Sun Ce's halberd, which he now wields instead of his old sword.]]
* NotInThisForYourRevolution: His main motivation is helping his sworn brother, Sun Ce, rebuild the Sun clan and restore its rightful government of the Southern region. Needless to say, the patriotic Zhuge Liang doesn't approve of him anymore than he does Sima Yi.
* TheMole: [[spoiler: Played this once to help Sun Ce]].
* ThePlan: The "Rise of Sun Ce" arc.
* UnusualEyebrows

!!Pang Tong
[[quoteright:233:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/23-a_4153.JPG]]
-> ''"Strategy, as they say, [[GambitIndex amounts to only one type]]."''

The Sixth Genius. With his extraordinary power of devising chained strategems, he's hailed as the 'Fledgeling Phoenix' (鳯雛; Fèngchú), one of the two titles conferred on the best of the Geniuses only (the other being 'Crouching Dragon', conferred on the Seventh Zhuge Liang). Regardings his principles, Pang Tong is considered a ruthless utilitarian whom even Jia Xu considers himself inferior to. He's close friend with Zhuge Liang, who shares his dream of restoring the era of Imperial Han and yet seems to advocate more benevolent methods. Thus, people believe that he favors Liu Bei [[spoiler:but he actually supports Liu Chong, a more powerful warlord and also related to the Imperial family]]. [[spoiler:The chain stratagem he sets up upon joining Liu Chong, which involves several prominent warlords in a surprise all-out extermination of Cao Cao's faction, soon pushes Cao Cao into deadly predicaments and nearly claims his life. This also brought about the demise of the Sima clan, marking one of the most significant plot development in the story.]] [[spoiler:After Liu Chong was assassinated by Sima Yi]], as of now he prefers to stay out of the power struggle and observe the going-ons. [[spoiler:Still, Liu Chong's death and a private talk with Liu Bei made him change his opinion, and he seems to support Liu Bei now.]]

* AwakeningTheSleepingGiant: The most spectacular example to date, bordering on plot-triggering. [[spoiler:Until Pang Tong comes his way and plots the sacrifice of Sima Yi's family, Sima Yi didn't even think about joining Cao Cao's team.]]
* BlackEyesOfEvil: WordOfGod says it's only for scary effects, though.
* ChekhovsSkill: The one he uses to solve Dong Zhuo's puzzle and earns the title of Fledgeling Phoenix, by connecting several characters from a thousand meaningless ones to form a sentence. [[spoiler:It speaks a lot of his talent for uniting warlords with independent motives into a mighty force against Cao Cao.]]
** That, and now with the confirmed fact that he's one hell of a silver-tongued manipulative bastard who can turn fire-forged allies against each other, you can see where it's going for Cao Cao in Chibi.
* ChekhovsClassroom: A lecture on the way of strategy, which he used to repeat for three days and none of his students understood. [[spoiler: Later they take it to heart, and act accordingly to aid him in a grand scheme of killing Cao Cao and undermining the influence of his faction.]]
* CoolTeacher: [[spoiler: He's one for a very good reason.]]
* CreepyGood: With heavy emphasis on creepy, as in "creepy-looking" - even Jia Xu thinks Pang Tong's brains is not his only frightening asset. Pang Tong himself knows this too.
* EnemyMine: He doesn't think the least bit favorably of dissidents like the Sun clan, but still joins force with them because he hates Cao Cao even more.
* FacialMarkings
* {{Foreshadowing}}: A lot, for the Battle of Chi Bi.
* HistoricalBeautyUpdate: Historically he's an ugly guy, but in Ravages of Time he is nothing short of the coolest looking of the Eight Geniuses.
* IFightForTheStrongestSide: Why he [[spoiler:picked Liu Chong over Liu Bei]], and allies with the Sun clan - the one faction left with any chance of opposing Cao Cao at all - in the Chibi arc.
* InsufferableGenius: Is one to his students, mostly due to the way he teaches them and how none of them can understand anything he says. [[spoiler: Subverted, later he successfully unites their factions under one goal: to kill Cao Cao, and none of them has any apprehension or hesitation in following his advices to the letter.]]
* NiceJobFixingItVillain: [[spoiler:His scheme triggered the ruins of Sima clan, which gives Sima Yi the incentive he needs to stop being BrilliantButLazy and join Cao Cao's faction, what Pang Tong wants to avoid in the first place.]]
* ThePlan: Look at what he does to Cao Cao on his debut. You do ''not'' want to mess with this guy.
* RedBaron: "Fledgling Phoenix".
* TheCakeIsALie:[[spoiler: He persuaded Sima Yi, Liaoyuan Huo and (indirectly, through Lu Bu) Xiao Meng to start a mutiny in Cao Cao's home base and assassinate him to put an end to Cao Cao's insatiable extortion of the Sima clan's money. Turned out he couldn't care less for the mission's success and actually meant for it to be the bait for a bigger divide-and-conquer strategy attempted on the Cao's army.]]
* ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill: The scope of that gamebit pileup he heapt on Cao Cao is ''unbelievable''. [[spoiler:Long story short, he manipulated two estranged members of the Crippled Legions (an assassin squad with a reputed 100% success rate) into a mission to assassinate Cao Cao. Then he sicced a horde of powerful warlords including Zhang Xiu, Lu Bu, Liu Biao, Liu Chong, Yuan Shu (each of them a formidable opponent to Cao Cao in their own rights) and several minor ones on Cao Cao's isolated troops. For good measures, he persuaded the Sima clan to cut off the ration supply (by threatening to blame said assassination attempts by the Crippled Legion members on them) and raised a mutiny in Cao Cao's home base. It was calculated so that whichever failed would not harm the success probability of another, and if all failed, Cao Cao's main force would have dwindled enough so that Pang Tong's lord, Liu Chong, could take on him evenly.]] It took Cao Cao's incredible good lucks and the combined efforts of his best generals to keep him alive, then Xun Yu, Guo Jia, Cheng Yu have to step into the picture to keep the damages down and break the stratagem. And everything is only over when [[spoiler:Sima Yi came back from near death to deliver the final blow to Pang Tong's gambit by assassinating Liu Chong.]]
* WhatAnIdiot: Said this almost word-for-word about Liu Bei, who (prior to [[TookALevelInJerkass taking a level in jerkass]]) was naive enough to jump at the chance to carry out the orders of the Emperor (at that point already a puppet on Cao Cao's strings) against a much stronger Yuan Shu. [[spoiler:He changes his mind somewhat, after meeting Liu Bei in person and seeing for himself that Liu Bei's kindness actually serves a bigger purpose.]]
* WickedCultured: Quotes Confucius incessantly.

!!Zhuge Liang
[[quoteright:234:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/zhugeliang_RoT_8743.jpg]]
-> ''"[[UndyingLoyalty Loyalty]] [[{{Foreshadowing}} until death]]."''

The Seventh Genius, holder of the prized title "Crouching Dragon" and supposedly the best of the Eights. He's shown to be an upright individual who places great ethical value in loyalty and patriotism, and holds like-minded men like Liu Bei in very high regards. His stated goal is to restore the rule of Han, which he sees as an exemplary act of anti-segregation made for the sake of future generations. Due to his dissatisfaction with the way selfish warlords run the country with civil wars, he has declined to choose a master and opted to live as a reclused teacher in Shuijing's military school. [[spoiler:As of recent chapters, he has been convinced to choose Liu Bei and is working for him now.]]

* TheAce
* CassandraTruth: In the first Dong Zhuo arc, he was the first of the Eight to suspect that Dong Zhuo was secretly preparing to leave the capital and had to solve a puzzle to prove it to everyone. With the exception of Sima Yi (who also arrived at the same conclusion some time prior), everyone dismissed him. Only Yuan Fang believed him and managed to alter his plan for the Luoyang hostage rescue operation just in time.
* TheDreaded: He's implied to be the best of the Eights way before he gets involved in anything big, and his winning the title of Dragon is only an icing on the cake. Small wonders the first thing that Guo Jia and Jia Xu try during the preparation stage for Chibi showdown is making sure he cannot get involved, even via killing him if necessary.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: For his future career -
** Despite excelling in many subjects, he's allegedly ''not'' as good at evaluating people as his upperclassmen Xun Yu and Guo Jia.
** It's said that only two of the Eight Geniuses study and prefer the Feng Hou formation to Sun Tzu's. One is Yuan Fang, and you get no points guessing who the other is.
** And of course, "loyalty until death".
* HeroicBSOD: In volume 12, when he finds the mountains of corpses Guo Jia and Cao Cao left behind their army's rampage. Then he gets another in volume 22, when he watches a battle and feels let down with the state of the country. It prompts his retirement to the school of Water-Mirror to continue teaching, and delays choosing a lord. [[spoiler:In recent volumes, he has gotten over it, and has declared Liu Bei his lord.]]
* JerkassHasAPoint: During said HeroicBSOD in volume 22, he recalls Sima Yi's theory of aiding the wicked strong to powers and overthrowing him, which will spare the people of years of wars and power struggles, and reluctantly finds it more reasonable than the chaos ensuing before him.
* LawfulGood: Used to be both lawful and good, now he's just good.
* LetNoCrisisGoToWaste: [[spoiler: He takes advantage of Jingzhou's political struggle to advance Liu Bei's status.]]
* RedBaron: "Crouching Dragon".
* RivalsTeamUp: With [[spoiler:Sima Yi]] in volume 13 to stop Guo Jia's total annihilation of Xuzhou's last line of defense. They weren't rival at any point before this, but Zhuge Liang already disliked the guy enough.
* StrangeMindsThinkAlike: To Sima Yi in several occasions.
* SymbolMotifClothing: His robe is strewn with pattern resembling dragon scales.
* TheCallKnowsWhereYouLive: Well, [[spoiler:Liaoyuan Huo]] does have good tracking skills..
* TheFaceless: Fans have been so longing to see what he looks like since volume 3, his unmasking has achieved a memetic level of inducing manic rage and speculations. ''Fourty-four'' volumes later, the author finally shows mercy.
* TookALevelInJerkass: By the beginning of Chibi, his mask is not the only possession of his righteous self that he has gotten rid of. [[spoiler:Orchestrating Guo Jia's death with Sima Yi and pulling the strings in the heir conflict within Jingzhou's Liu clan are but the tip of the iceberg.]]
* UndyingLoyalty: One of the many virtues he advocates.

!! The Eighth Genius

The last of the Eight Genius. There has been much debate over who is the last Genius, and theory abounds. One of the fan theories is crushed when [[spoiler: Lu Xun, unmasked, appears to save Sima Yi and goes on to join the Sun clan]]. Other possible favourite candidates are Wei Yan, Fa Zheng, Xu Shu or Lu Su. [[spoiler:As of chapter 376, with Xu Shu's appearance as Zhuge Liang's henchmen, another theory is jossed.]]

* HeWhoMustNotBeSeen: He's never been revealed to the readers without the company of at least one other Genius, in mask and all, so it's pretty much impossible to tell which one is him, much less who he is. And note that as far as we can tell, he's only appreared three times in 44 volumes.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Cao faction]]
Tropes associated with Cao Cao's faction:

* AnAxeToGrind: Xu Huang and Xu Chu.
* BadassArmy: Universally recognized as ''the'' badass army.
* BadassCrew: Cao Cao's advisors include, among other talents, ''three'' of the Eight Geniuses, [[spoiler: later joined by ''Sima Yi'']]. His generals: [[BadassFamily many from his own family]], [[BadassFamily the Xiahou brothers]], [[TheBigGuy Xu Chu]], [[ImplacableMan Dian Wei]], [[BadassNormal Li Dian]], [[TheSmartGuy Yu Jin]], and later [[spoiler: Zhang Liao]] are either strong like monsters, or extremely well-rounded physically and mentally.
* BewareTheQuietOnes: Xu Chu, and not just because he is [[MadeOfIron Xu]] [[ImplacableMan Chu]]. [[spoiler:Unbeknowst to Cao Cao, Sima Yi and the readers, this guy has been silently plotting revenge against Sima clan with his older brother all along. When they come out with it in volume 24, it was.. a jaw-dropping [[TheReveal twist]], to say the least.]]
* ChekhovsGunman: The leader of the Crippled Legion succeeding Liaoyuan Huo, who appears in volume 22 [[spoiler:and is Xu Ding, Xu Chu's older brother, with as much desire for revenge as his little brother.]]
* DefectorFromDecadence: Xu Huang.
* DualWielding: Dian Wei.
* EyepatchOfPower: [[spoiler: Xiahou Dun]], not surprisingly for those who read the novel.
* EyeScream: [[spoiler:Xiahou Dun got an arrow to his prized left eye. He ''[[{{Squick}} pulls the arrow out with the eyeball stuck to it]]''. He ''eats the eyeball''. [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome And then his asskicking power shoots up.]]]]
* GeniusBruiser: Yu Jin.
* GlowingEyesOfDoom: Xu Chu.
* FaceHeelTurn: [[spoiler:The Qingzhou troops, formerly Yellow Turban soldiers, turn on Cao Cao under Zuo Ci's influence in the battle against Yuan clan.]]
* ParentalSubstitute: Cao Cao to Xu Chu, who respects him so much he thinks of him like his father [[spoiler:who is Xu Lin.]]
* PreAssKickingOneLiner: '''''MY LORD IS CALLING ME.''''' Woe befalls whoever doesn't run away from Dian Wei after that line.
* OneManArmy: Most if not all of Cao Cao's generals have shown this trait.
* SuperSenses: Xiahou Dun's left eye, which can see for miles. [[spoiler: He loses it in the Xiapi campaign at Xiao Meng's hands.]]
* SuperStrength: Xiahou Dun, who can ''throw a lance to the top of a mountain''. And since he's got that left eye, don't expect him to miss. Ever.
* SuperToughness: Xu Chu and Dian Wei.
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: [[spoiler:Xu Ding to the Sima clan in volume 25.]]
* RunningGag: "My Lord, are you training troops?"
* UndyingLoyalty: Dian Wei takes this trope UpToEleven. [[spoiler:Even when ''he's cut into two'', ''he still bellows to his leg to get up and kill the enemy together''. They have to stab him in the neck to shut him up.]]
-->[[spoiler: '''Dian Wei:''']] [[spoiler: Legs! Get up! Legs! You traitors! Did you forget… why you live?]]
* TheBerserker: Xu Chu ([[BerserkButton if the subject of his revenge is brought up]]) and Dian Wei, but ''especially'' [[ImplacableMan Dian]] [[LikeABadassOutOfHell Wei]], [[spoiler: who tries to kill his enemy despite [[HalfTheManHeUsedToBe being cut into two]]]]. Xiahou Dun can be this when he's too caught up in the bloodlust of the fight.
* TrainingFromHell: [[spoiler:The entire 1st Xuzhou campaign.]]
* TookALevelInBadass
* WouldHurtAChild: ''Goddamn it'', Xu Chu.
* YouKilledMyFather: Xu Chu [[spoiler:and his older brother Xu Ding]] to [[spoiler:Liaoyuan Huo and the entire Sima clan.]]

!!Cao Cao
[[quoteright:232:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/45-000_4666.jpg]]
-> ''"The villain in chaos, the hero in peace."''

The leader of Cao clan. He started out as a vanguard of the Guandong Alliance and was one of the first to strike at Dong Zhuo (the only other was Sun Jian). The battle was his first crippling defeat and nearly cost him his entire army as well as the future of his faction, but as things turned out, it was Cao Cao's victory in the long term: through his bold initiative, he struck men of talents - among them three of the famous Eight Geniuses - as a patriot of great integrity and a lord worthy of their service. When Xun Yu and Guo Jia take turn joining his side, their genius and Cao Cao's own flair for strategic risk-taking come together and jointly result in sequence of brilliant schemes, rebuilding his army from scratch and quickly expanding his territory.

Cao Cao's gradual rise in and of itself is arguably a series of escalating CrowningMomentOfAwesome in a series full of them. From a minor character in the grand scheme of things who was one step away from losing his life on behalf of conventional idealism, he has developed into a protagonist characterized by Machiavellian traits, shedding most of his early scruples and the near-death, near-total-defeat situations he survives only end up hardening his resolve. So far, the victories that define his career are [[spoiler:the defeat and murder of Lu Bu and Yuan Shu, the capture of the young Emperor]] and, as of recent volumes, [[spoiler:the defeat of the all-powerful Yuan clan.]]

* {{AntiHero}}: Progresses from Type I to Type III, and shows shades of Type IV at his worst.
* BadassBookworm: He's more proficient in utilizing Sun Tzu's Art of War than Guo Jia or the Sun clan (supposedly Sun Tzu's descendants), and Yuan Fang can testify to it.
* BadassMustache
* BreakTheHaughty: Unless that's what he wants you to think.
* BullyingADragon: Extorts money from Sima clan, all the while knowing very well that they have a deadly squad of assassin under their thumb and a [[TheChessmaster Chessmaster]] on par with his three Geniuses, and on top of that ''are well-known for killing extortionists''? Bad idea, but kinda averted in that [[spoiler:the whole business about the Sima mutiny and sending the Crippled Legion's assassins after him was not Sima Yi's idea, but Pang Tong's]]. [[{{Futureshadowing}} It will eventually be played straight]] with [[spoiler:his massacre of Sima clan]], though.
* CreateYourOwnVillain: He instructs two wealthy merchant clans to finance the dissolved, destitute Sun clan's quest to pacify the Eastern region and gives them Imperial permission. He takes in a defeated Liu Bei and grants him resources to gain a political ally in the court. Eventually, the both of them outgrows what he initially expects and turns around to oppose him.
** The final nail in the coffin comes when he [[spoiler:murders Sima Yi's family]] yet lets Sima Yi live, effectively dooming his descendants.
* DarkMessiah
* DirtyOldMan: [[TheStoic Xu Chu]] even [[RunningGag makes jokes on it]].
* EvilChancellor: Currently holds this place in the court. However, it's also noted that he averts ''like hell'' some of the bad stuffs usually associated with being this; for example, he's quite beloved by the people and many Imperialist talents are willing to serve him.
* FaceHeelTurn: Guo Jia's arrival in volume 10 initiates one for him.
* FreudianExcuse: It's implied that the cruel persecution he endures in his younger years as a foster child of an eunuch family is part of the driving force that got him where he is today.
* HeroWithBadPublicity: Might be this or a VillainWithGoodPublicity, depending on who you ask - his vassals or his enemies.
* {{Jerkass}}
* LargeHam: He has his moments.
* LuckyBastard: To quote Jia Xu, Xiao Meng and many others - this guy is assisted by the wills of Heaven.
* ItsPersonal: His excuse for attacking Xuzhou is to avenge his father against the Governor of Xuzhou, whom he accused of a rob-and-murder plot. [[spoiler:The old man actually died a natural death, and the whole thing is Guo Jia's idea.]]
* MagneticHero
* MagnificentBastard
* MoralEventHorizon: The massacre of a hundred thousand civilians during his first Xuzhou campaign.
* OvershadowedByAwesome: Averted, as he's no less of a MagnificentBastard than the three Geniuses serving him and only lacks their flair for elaborate {{plan}}s. Shuijing, their teacher, even comments that much of their successes can be attributed to his leadership skills. The aversion truly takes it to the top in the Battle of Guandu, [[spoiler:when he fights Yuan Fang's Feng-hou Eight Formation Diagram evenly with an improved version of Sun Tzu's formation, whereas Guo Jia spectacularly lost to it before.]]
* PayEvilUntoEvil: His rationale behind the whole "villain in war, able ruler in peace" front. YMMV on how much of it is his patriotism speaking and how much of it is his ambition to be Emperor trying to give a good excuse.
* SelfMadeMan: The man who, with his genius, has single-handedly built a glorious politics and military career in the name of Cao, a family which produced [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cao_Teng a famous eunuch]] and was initially of low social standing among the warlords due to the unpopularity of eunuches at that time. His lineage becomes a minor, but important, plot point during the climax of a story arc [[spoiler:where it's exploited by Sima Yi and Jia Kui to force him to execute Xiao Meng prematurely in order to appease the Qingzhou troops who were driven by eunuch-persecuting mob mentality]].
* StrawHypocrite: He can go on and on about how he controls court affairs just to aid the young Emperor, everyone knows he has bigger ambitions.
* TheManBehindTheMan
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: To Dong Cheng and Sun Ce, [[BreakTheHaughty none of whom take it well]].
** The eulogy he delivers [[spoiler:with [[DecapitationPresentation Yuan Tan's head]]]] before [[spoiler:Yuan Shao's grave]] is another. "Respect for the dead" is apparently an alien phrase to Cao Cao.
* TraumaCongaLine: Hits it off in volume 14 and 24.
* TookALevelInJerkass
* WellIntentionedExtremist: Again, only if you think he's acting for the good of the country and not his ambition as he claims.
* YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness: [[spoiler:To the Sima clan in volume 25.]]
* ZeroApprovalGambit
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Liu faction]]

!!Liu Bei

* HundredPercentAdorationRating
* AFatherToHisMen: ...but not much to his own child, whom he considers of lesser importance than his sworn brothers.
* ArmorPiercingQuestion: "Are you satisfied... with dying like this?"
* BareYourMidriff
* BewareTheNiceOnes
* BlueBlood: Claims to have it. Not everyone believes him at first, but eventually nobody cares.
* BreakThemByTalking: At the White Gate Tower, and that should be enough hint as to whom this speech was directed at.
* ButtMonkey: As in the novel, he keeps losing to Cao Cao and Lu Bu over and over again. But each time he loses, his prestige increases and his reputation as a loyal Han follower and a righteous man shoots up. However, constantly being on the TraumaCongaLine results in his gradual development into [[KnightInSourArmor a much more cynical, calculating man]].
* ChewingTheScenery: Pretty much how he delivers said ArmorPiercingQuestion to Zhang Liao.
* CruelToBeKind: Debuts by pretending to be a henchman of Dong Zhuo who robs people of their fortune, so that they would hate Dong Zhuo, and in return welcome the anti-Dong coalition as their saviors -- which so touched the coalition soldiers that they forgot ''their'' own plan to loot the city.
* {{Determinator}}
* GlowingEyesOfDoom: [[spoiler:When he persuades Zhang Liao to surrender to Cao Cao and thus saves his life.]]
* GoodIsDumb: He gets over it.
* TheEmpath: ''Very'' good at discerning the personality and the wants and desires of people he come across.
* HonorBeforeReason: Then again, he has a good reason to put his honor first. He knows that his reputation is about the only thing he has going for him, so most of his decisions are based on how to polish it, not sacrifice it.
* MagneticHero: His charisma points are off the charts, topping even Cao Cao.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: People think he's a patriotic idiot. Cao Cao knows better.
* PowerTrio: The Id.
* SlaveToPR: Is frequently accused of this by his (more practical) subordinates.
* StartOfDarkness: After the loss of Xiapi to Lu Bu, although [[spoiler:it had actually been engineered by Zhang Fei to minimize casualties to Liu Bei's force]]:
-->'''Liu Bei:''' Lu Bu took Xiapi from Xiaopei... [[spoiler:why can't I? Fake a truce, then pay him back when we can!]]
* TheMessiah: And lately, has been showing traits of a DarkMessiah. Not that the populace adoring him notice.
* TookALevelInJerkass
* WideEyedIdealist [[spoiler:No Longer]]

!!Guan Yu

* {{Badass}}
* HonorBeforeReason
* LawfulGood: Irrefutably so.
* OneManArmy: On the same level with Lu Bu.
* PowerTrio: The Ego.
* ThePaladin

!!Zhang Fei

* {{Badass}}
* CulturedWarrior: His other identity is a renowned artist, and the Eight Geniuses' teacher is a fan of his. Who could have known?
* FacialMarkings: And they look even weirder than Pang Tong's. He's even nicknamed 'Painted-Face Zhang Fei'.
* GeniusBruiser
* [[BeautifulAllAlong Handsome All Along]]: Zhang Fei's unpainted face is yet to be seen as he always covers his face when he doesn't have all those painted tattoos, but from what we can see he does not look half bad.
* ObfuscatingStupidity
* OneManArmy: Fights Lu Bu to a standstill twice. Five of Cao Cao's best generals (together) fail to manage it even once.
* PowerTrio: The Superego.

!!Xu Shu

Zhuge Liang's friend and confidante. At Zhuge Liang's request, he arrives in Jingzhou to side with Liu Bei when the latter gets involved in the power struggle between Liu Biao's two sons, Liu Qi and Liu Cong.

* BewareTheNiceOnes
* WoundedGazelleGambit: [[spoiler:He orchestrated the incident at River Tan to expose Cai Mao's scheme to get rid of Liu Bei in front of Jingzhou's officials.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Lu faction]]
Tropes associated with Lu Bu's faction:

* BadassArmy: The Chargers, led by [[ColonelBadass Gao Shun]].
* BadassCrew: Gao Shun and Zhang Liao.
* BrainsAndBrawn: Chen Gong and Lu Bu.
* CoolOldGuy: Chen Gong. So cool even Cao Cao's three Geniuses respect him,[[spoiler: and would have been honored to have him on their sides had he not choosen dying instead of joining Cao Cao.]]
* CoolTeacher: Chen Gong to many younger advisors. Also Cao Xing, the leading archer, to [[spoiler:Xiao Meng]].
* DespairEventHorizon: Quite a lot, considering the amounts of ass-kicking dealt to them in the tenth volume by Jia Xu and in later volumes by Cao Cao. [[spoiler:The crowning moment of despair occurs during the Xiapi campaign, when they fell for Guo Jia's trap and are besieged on all sides by flood, sicknesses, rapidly declining food rations, being cut off from other troops, and there were no longer any allies they could count on. Even those who had followed Lu Bu since the beginning decided against staying with him on this sinking boat and defected to Cao Cao.]]
* [[spoiler: DyingMomentOfAwesome]]: [[spoiler: Chen Gong and Gao Shun]]. The former [[FaceDeathWithDignity faced death with sheer badass dignity]], and the latter charged into a horde of enemy while ''paraplegic'' to rescue his master, and [[spoiler:refused to die until the leader of the opposing charge, Cao Chun, delivered the mercy kill.]]
** In [[spoiler:Chen Gong]]'s case, he manages to publicly coerce Cao Cao into taking care of [[spoiler:Chen Gong]]'s relatives after [[spoiler:his execution]], counsel [[spoiler:other captives facing execution]], and explain concisely why [[spoiler:he won't submit and live -- Cao Cao Cao isn't ''worse'' than Lu Bu, he's ''just as bad'']]. For all of these, Xiahou Dun begs him to reconsider so that he might live, Guo Jia and Jia Xu salute him ([[MaryTzu two of the Eight Geniuses]] saluting their "inferior"), and Cao Cao salutes and sheds a ManlyTear for him.
--->'''The chapter's conclusion:''' After that, Cao Cao tended to [[spoiler:Chen Gong]]'s mother until her death, and he also found a husband for the daughter. He still grieves whenever he is reminded of [[spoiler:Chen Gong]].
* FoeTossingCharge: Lu Bu (anytime he goes full God of War mode into battle), Gao Shun (it's what he does) and Zhang Liao (after he [[TookALevelInBadass takes his level(s) in badass]]).
* HopelessSuitor: Qin Yi Lu to Xiao Meng in the novel, although he [[CannotSpitItOut never says it out loud]].
* MoralityPet: Lu Bu's daughter is one to him. Xiao Meng might be another, but the novel is more obvious about this.
* IKnowYouKnowIKnow: Many of Chen Gong's strategies can be summed up into this, especially during [[spoiler:Lu Bu's takeover of Xuzhou.]]
* [[spoiler:KillTheCutie]]: [[spoiler:Poor Lu Bu's daughter.]]
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: [[spoiler: Lu Bu fell for Sima Yi's ruse and caused the entire disaster of flooding Xiapi by sending away Gao Shun, who was guarding the river on Chen Gong's order.]]
* ScrewThisImOuttaHere: [[spoiler:The sentiment of many Lu Bu's soldiers, when the situation in Xiapi turned hopeless.]]
* TheChessmaster: Lu Bu, and after Chen Gong joins him, only Chen Gong.
* UndyingLoyalty: [[spoiler:Gao Shun.]]

!!Lu Bu
[[quoteright:220:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/LuBu_RoT_9297.jpg]]
->''Dong Zhuo: "A scholar doesn't know how to fight; a warrior doesn't know how to write. One who can both write and fight is rare. Who do you reckon Lu Bu is?"''
->''Xu Lin: "It is said among soldiers - "Among horses, Red Hare is the fastest. Among men, Lu Bu is the strongest". But I reckon that Lu Bu is not human at all!"''

The WarGod of the series, an indomitable fighter and a capable strategist. Ambitious and power hungry, he seeks to murder Dong Zhuo for power, just as he did to his previous foster-father. [[spoiler:He succeeds, but soon finds himself a foe to the Third Genius Jia Xu and loses to his schemes]]. After that he tries to become a dominant power in northern China with the help of his advisor Chen Gong.

[[spoiler:Chen Gong got OutGambitted during the battle of Xia Pi, and Lu Bu was captured and finally executed.]]

* AintTooProudToBeg: If it means he can save his own hide and get another chance to start anew, then yes, unashamedly.
* '''{{Badass}}''': Repeat- '''''[[PunctuatedForEmphasis HE. IS. LU. BU.]]'''''
** AGodAmI: ''"[[NoHoldsBarredBeatdown I am the God of War!]] [[CurbStompBattle A god among men!!]]"''
** AsskickingEqualsAuthority
** AuthorityEqualsAsskicking
** BreakTheBadass
** CurbStompBattle and NoHoldsBarredBeatdown: Thy names are "Lu Bu vs. everyone".
** CoolHorse: A ''badass'' horse, in fact. "Red Hare among horses, Lu Bu among men" indeed.
** [[spoiler: DyingMomentOfAwesome]]: [[spoiler: It takes three of Cao Cao's best generals (one of them the giant Xu Chu) to asphyxiate him. Eventually, Xiahou Dun has to behead Lu Bu to kill him off for real.]]
** FoeTossingCharge: In your face, Yuan Shu.
** FourStarBadass
** LeeroyJenkins: He doesn't invoke this trope very often, though.
** LivingLegend
** OffscreenMomentOfAwesome: How he earned the title "God of War" in the first place. Another is his very first battle against the Guandong alliance, in which it's said that he defeated ''60 great generals and 100,000 soldiers'' with merely a handful men on his side.
** PersonOfMassDestruction
** RatedMForManly
** RedBaron: Deservingly, "God of War".
** SuperStrength: Lu Bu has the look, size and muscle of an average OneManArmy, but he can '''swing [[TheBigGuy Xu Chu]] around''' on his shoulders, '''carry [[TheBigGuy Ji Ling]] on one arm''', then throw the poor guy down and proceed to mop the floor with him.
** SuperToughness: Arrows, swords and poison do harm him, but if you think they can stop him for a second from beating you to a pulp, think again. Or better yet, just run.
** '''''WorldsStrongestMan''''': The first and foremost OneManArmy of this era. If you are a latecomer in this field like Guan Yu, Zhang Fei or Sun Ce, expect to be judged by the standards he has set. In a real fight, as long as he doesn't engage in a fight with Guan Yu, Zhang Fei (both [[OneManArmy One-Man-Armies]] on his level) and 'undead' monsters like Liaoyuan Huo or Dian Wei, Lu Bu is the only fighter who never, ever fails to utterly curb-stomp his opponents, whether they are Yuan Shu's thousand-soldiered army, or a team of up to five of Cao Cao's best generals with his sheer strength, skills and badassery.
* BitchInSheepsClothing: When he serves in Dong Zhuo's army, he manages to win the hearts of men all over. Neither Dong Zhuo nor his wiseguy team can do anything about it,''despite knowing Lu Bu's true colors''.
* BodyDouble: He has dozens of them, either for faking his presence (which is often enough to hold off the enemy) when he's needed elsewhere or faking his deaths so that he can get away.
* ButtMonkey: And the instigators of his constant falls are Cao Cao, Sima Yi and Jia Xu, then Guo Jia [[spoiler:for his final downfall]].
* CallBack: See Main page.
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder
* DespairEventHorizon: [[spoiler: The sight of his beloved daughter being cut in half by Xu Chu and trampled to death under horse' feet during a failed siege breakout was a particularly ''gut-wrenching'' one for Lu Bu. Then he went on full berserk mode and took out all of his opponents (who are the Xiahou brothers, Xu Chu, Xu Huang, Han Hao,.. yeah, kind of the cream of the crops in Cao Cao's entire army).]]
* [[spoiler:FaceDeathWithDignity]]: [[spoiler:Completely averted; in his execution Lu Bu begged for his life and humbled himself to the point of self-humiliation to Cao Cao's mooks. Then the aversion is subverted: Cao Cao publicly declared that Lu Bu knew the value of life - compared to Cao Cao's own "shallow" men - and thus was willing to stake his superficial pride for it, and praised Lu Bu for his courage. Upon hearing this, Lu Bu sobered up immediately for his DyingMomentOfAwesome.]]
--> '''Cao Cao:''' What good is reputation if you are dead? A true hero understands that one can accomplish much more by staying alive. In the past we had Gou Jian surviving as a peasant, and today we have [[spoiler:Lu Bu begging for his life]]. Your courage surpasses all the shallow men here. It surpasses the reputation which they hold dearer than life. Of all the heroes (in the world), who is more fearless than you on the battlefield? And who more unafraid of death? And of all the heroes, who dares to trample on their pride like you have? [[spoiler:God of War, Lu Bu]], you truly embody the essence of [[GeniusBruiser brains and brawn]].
---> Cao Cao speech and how Lu Bu acted was actually a call back to what Lu Bu said to Cao Cao in the battle of Xia Pi when Lu Bu had Cao Cao cornered.
* FakingTheDead: One of his most favourite tactics.
* GraspTheSun: [[spoiler:In his dying moment, whereby he got the epiphany of the final victor of this war - a fiery phoenix, aka Sima Yi.]]
* HoistByHisOwnPetard
* HonorBeforeReason: [[YouShouldKnowThisAlready Not surprisingly]], an averted trope here. [[spoiler:Even averted in his last moments]].
* LaserGuidedKarma: Every traitorous deed that Lu Bu ever does will eventually come back to bite him in the ass, no exception.
** The whole deal with overthrowing Dong Zhuo, as it turned out, sent at least three mortal enemies hot on his heels, all of whom would later contribute to his downfall(s). [[spoiler:He was dealt three crippling defeats by the ThanatosGambit of Jia Xu, Li Ru's oath brother and Dong Zhuo's advisor; his daughter was killed by Xu Chu, the son of Xu Lin whose death he had indirectly caused (by sending Xu Chu away right at the moment the Crippled Legion was targeting him); and finally he was captured at the White Gate Tower due to the betrayal of Hou Cheng, Song Xian and Wei Xu, who were former subordinates of Dong Zhuo's general Hua Xiong, whom Zhang Liao assassinated on his orders.]]
** Then the business with robbing Liu Bei, who was sheltering him, of Xuzhou by allying with Liu Bei's enemy Yuan Shu. [[spoiler:At the White Gate Tower execution ground, Liu Bei returned the favor by convincing Cao Cao to kill Lu Bu instead of sparing his life.]]
* MadnessMantra: [[spoiler:"It doesn't hurt. It doesn't hurt. '''''[[RoaringRampageOfRevenge IT DOESN'T HURT]].'''''"]]
* MeaningfulEcho: "No pain. No pain at all." - what he said to his daughter, [[spoiler:which were her last words to him when she died]], then repeated several times by him in poignant moments.
* MoralEventHorizon: Is seen by others as having crossed it a long time ago [[spoiler:when he betrayed and killed his two foster fathers Ding Yuan and Dong Zhuo.]]
* OhCrap: The crowning ones are courtesy of said guys who makes a ButtMonkey out of him for their breakfast -
** The first sign that his streak of outgambitting other has ended comes when [[spoiler:Sima Yi threatened him with Dong Zhuo's edict to get his team out of Chang'an safely and warn Lu Bu's hands off his family's business at the same time.]]
** In Chang'an arc [[spoiler:when he realized Niu Fu's death was a bait by Jia Xu.]] Again, in the same arc [[spoiler:when he fell for Dong Yue's death, ''again'' a bait by Jia Xu, and that Sima Yi indirectly lent a hand by leaving the edict behind for Jia Xu's taking.]]
** In Puyang [[spoiler:when the Yellow Turban troops turned on him.]]
** In Xiapi [[spoiler:when Chen Gong hammered it home that Sima Yi had duped him. For the second time.]]
* PapaWolf: For a guy who has betrayed two foster fathers, he loves his little daughter a lot.
* PermaStubble
* PetTheDog: Lu Bu can, and will, abandon the useless mooks to save his own skin, but it doesn't mean he will leave behind his closest companions without a fight.
** Again - [[EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas Even Lu Bu loves his daughter]]. Sob.
** He risks it to save [[spoiler:Gao Shun]] after their botched siege on Cao Cao's camp while he himself is being hotly pursued, and his distressed reaction to [[spoiler:Gao Shun's death at Cao Chun's hands]] also tells a lot.
** He truly appreciates Chen Gong's service and addresses the old man on equal terms, which is why Chen Gong likes to be by his side better than joining the court or serving Cao Cao. Their final talk, depressing as it was, was another proof of their strong friendship - [[spoiler:Chen Gong insisted on staying behind to cover for Lu Bu's escape and apologized for having failed him so many times, while Lu Bu entreated that they should leave together. Soon after, they were both captured by the three traitors Song Xian, Wei Xu and Hou Cheng.]]
* ShipTease: With Xiao Meng.
* TheBerserker: [[spoiler:He thoroughly curbstomped the best five generals of Cao Cao after his daughter was killed before his eyes.]]
* TheStarscream
* TooDumbToLive: For all his wits, Lu Bu never seems to learn that Jia Xu's and Sima Yi's words are ''not'' to be trusted under any circumstances.
* WhatTheHellHero: Zhang Liao wants to have a word with the way Lu Bu treats his brothers-in-arms.

!!Zhang Liao
[[quoteright:218:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/38-a_6800.gif]]

* {{AntiVillain}}: Type IV.
* AFatherToHisMen: Unlike Lu Bu, he cares a lot for his subordinates, and frequently risks his life to guard their escape routes instead of the other way around. [[spoiler: When many of them were beheaded after Cao Cao defeats Lu Bu, he even disobeyed orders to stay behind and recover their remains. Yuan Tan's army came charging through ? He beat the hell out of them.]]
* '''{{Badass}}''': Liaoyuan Huo's equal.
** BadassBoast and PreAsskickingOneLiner: "No one has ever passed the range of my swords".
** DualWielding
** FoeTossingCharge
** FourStarBadass
** FutureBadass: [[spoiler:''20 years later, this man Zhang Liao... with a hundred men by his side, defeated Sun Quan's 100,000 soldiers in the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hefei_(208) Battle of Hefei]]. His name was celebrated far and wide across the land''.]]
** GeniusBruiser
** LegacyCharacter: [[spoiler:Of [[WorldsStrongestMan Lu Bu]], whose headband he'd recovered and worn in the man's memory and [[FourStarBadass Gao Shun]], whose fighting style he'd taken after.]]
** SubmissiveBadass
** TookALevelInBadass: [[spoiler:After Lu Bu died]]. His biggest feat so far is [[spoiler:killing Wen Chou]], and the foreshadowings of Battle of Hefei state that it's just the beginning of many levels in badass that he's going to take.
** TranquilFury: ''Oops''. [[spoiler:Run, Yuan Tan, run ''again''.]]
** YouShallNotPass: Whenever he's in "No one has ever passed the range of my swords" mode. And not pass they shall. [[spoiler:Save for Sun Ce.]]
* BecauseYouWereNiceToMe: He intervened in a sparring match between Lu Bu and Guan Yu (happened with Lu Bu's soldiers surrounding the both of them, and Guan Yu already lost his weapon) in the manner of a sneak attack but actually meant to alert and free Guan Yu, because Guan Yu once saved his life. Lu Bu knew what he was doing, and punched him good.
* BodyDouble: For Lu Bu [[spoiler:and Cao Cao after he joined his side.]]
* {{Determinator}}
* EvilCounterpart: To Liaoyuan Huo. A (former) badass assassin and [[TheDragon dragon]] to a [[MyMasterRightOrWrong master with questionable morality]], with a subconscious desire for a better life instead of one of constant underhanded schemings, [[spoiler:and later join a new master who can offer them all that]]? You bet. The author is quite obvious about it as well, what with his constant dual expositions of these two, with hints here and there about their FutureBadass status.
* FriendlyEnemy: To Guan Yu.
* [[spoiler: HeelFaceTurn]]: [[spoiler: When he was finally captured by Cao Cao at the end of Xiapi campaign. Initially he was going for a DefiantToTheEnd ending, but Liu Bei persuaded him otherwise.]]
* HonorBeforeReason
* MeaningfulEcho: [[spoiler:To make Guan Yu surrender, he uses the same words that Liu Bei said to him in convincing him not to die after Lu Bu's defeat.]]
* MrFanservice
* MyMasterRightOrWrong: He has certain issues with Lu Bu's amoral ways, but shuts up most of the time. [[spoiler: He finally loses it when Lu Bu suggests using their subordinates as scapegoats to escape from Xiapi, and leaves Lu Bu's side to protect his men.]]
* ScarsAreForever: He got two slight gash on his face during a battle in which he impersonated as Lu Bu, and they stay with him.
* TryingToCatchMeFightingDirty: And [[ThePaladin Guan Yu]] calls him out on it.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Sun faction]]

* BadassCrew
* BadassFamily
* BadassGrandpa: Huang Gai.
* BrainwashedAndCrazy: [[spoiler: Ling Tong and Cheng Pu, after some direct contacts with Yu Ji.]] [[spoiler:And subverted with Cheng Pu.]]
* BunnyEarsLawyer: Lu Meng, a very talented [[GeniusBruiser strategist and general]], but [[BuffySpeak illiterate]] and [[ClusterFBomb crude]] (to people's exasperation). [[spoiler:By the time of Sun Ce's death, he's shown to be a much more eloquent and studious man.]]
* DefeatMeansFriendship: How Sun Ce gets Taishi Ci. Trolling the hell out of him helps, too.
* DefectorFromDecadence: [[spoiler:Gan Ning]].
* DespairEventHorizon: Sun Jian's death was one for them, since it brought about the clan's near collapse and forced its member to kowtow to the enemies. [[spoiler:Later, Sun Ce's death.]]
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler:Ling Cao.]]
* IFightForTheStrongestSide: The Lu clan, led by [[YoungAndInCharge Lu Xun]], which was previously an ally of Taiping cult but surrenders to the emerging Sun clan.
* IndyPloy: Invoked; Sun Ce always counts on his men and Zhou Yu to be adaptive and makes use of the situational advantages offered by his reckless charges.
* LegacyOfService: Most aged generals serving Sun Ce used to be his father Sun Jian's subordinates. After Ling Cao passed away, his son Ling Tong was given a title and joined Sun Ce.
* OneManArmy: Zhou Tai, Taishi Ci and Sun Ce (especially Sun Ce), who frequently take on a vast number of enemy troops alone.
* ParentalNeglect: Judging by the way he reacts to his daughter's near-death experience and Sun Ce's flashback, Sun Jian might be accused of this to his children. In the novel Bofu, Sun Ce gets this short end of the stick a lot and it damages his sense of self-worth quite severely.
* SirSwearsalot: Lu Meng.
* TheCallPutMeOnHold: Taishi Ci, who is young, talented and eager to prove himself to his lords, who are either too conservative to use his strategies or just plain disapproves of his hotbloodedness. Of course, he gets his due after joining the Sun clan.
* TooGoodForThisSinfulEarth: Sun Jian, whose ideals of righteousness and loyalty are out of keeping with the era he lives in.
* UndyingLoyalty: Sun Jian to the court, and Sun Ce is not pleased.
* [[spoiler: TheHeroDies]]
* WhatWereYouThinking: To Sun Ce, whenever he does something reckless (which is ''often'') like leaving the main troops to take on an entire army alone. Of course, to Sun Ce, it's always AllAccordingToPlan...
* WhatTheHellHero: [[spoiler:Ling Tong to Sun Ce, who desecrated Ling Cao's tomb and blamed it on the enemies to inspire his troops.]]
* YouKilledMyFather: Subverted with Ling Tong. He knows his father's sacrifice was needed to revive the Sun clan, and harbors no resentment towards Sun Ce or whoever has a hand in [[spoiler:the 'fake Sun Ce' plan]].

!!Sun Ce
[[quoteright:216:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/000_6647.jpg]]
-> ''[[CatchPhrase Heaven, I ask you]]. Are you on my side?''

The young leader of Sun clan, a powerful clan in the Eastern region. Starting with the death of his father Sun Jian, the Sun clan slowly fell victims to outside manipulations and opportunistists who are after the Imperial seal, which Sun Jian allegedly recovered from the ruins of Luoyang after Dong Zhuo's arc and hid away to protect it from ambitious men; by the time of their first appearance what remains is a mere shadow of their old glory. Seeking a way to rebuild his clan and avenge his father's death, Sun Ce submits to Yuan Shu, one of his father's former direct superiors. The cover of amity does not fool either side, though: Yuan Shu, the mastermind behind Sun Jian's death, aims at possessing the Imperial seal and eradicating a future threat, and Sun Ce wants to win his support only to gain the resources to reclaim the Eastern region. Volume 16-20 center around their conflict, [[spoiler:and end in Sun Ce's victory: he successfully escapes from under Yuan Shu's clutches to the Eastern region with a full army by means of one of the most clever BodyDouble strategy to date, Yuan Shu's forces is reduced by half, and the Imperial seal ends up in Yuan Shu's hands to be used in his ascension plan - as Sun Ce wishes - which will make him an enemy of the people]]. Also, by the end of this arc, we see that the Fifth Genius, Zhou Yu, is in his service.

After he's conquered all of the Eastern region's warlord, his archenemy reveals itself to be the remnant of Taiping rebellion, led by the so-called "Great Saint" Yu Ji, a Taoist who uses his medical and shaman knowledge to gather an overwhelming legion of followers. The 2nd arc featuring the Sun clan revolves around the Sun clan vs. Taiping cult battle in Eastern region.

Despite his age, Sun Ce is a very powerful warrior and is considered to be Lu Bu's equal in prowess, a reputation duly justified. He's also a highly cunning schemer in his own right, and is ''very'' clever at manipulating people. What his generals and advisors unanimously regard as his AchillesHeel is his over-enthusiasm with expanding their territory in the Eastern region and exacting revenge on his father's former foes, namely Liu Biao's general Huang Zu and the Taiping cult. In his eagerness to subdue them, more than once Sun Ce has recklessly put his own life on the line, a fact Zhou Yu's greatly concerned about. Still, none of their warnings dampen Sun Ce's spirit: he wholeheartedly believes that great sacrifices make the foundation for Sun clan's rule, and as the spearhead of the clan's offense force, he should do everything he can while Heaven is still on their side.

[[spoiler:With Pang Tong's aid, the Sun clan manages to defeat Yu Ji and annihilate his influence in their home base. However, in volume 39, another leader of Taiping called Zuo Ci shows up and sends assassins after Sun Ce to avenge Yu Ji. Their ambush takes him by surprise, and he dies of a poisonous arrow to the head after three months of struggle and insanity induced by extreme agony.]]

* TheAce: Almighty warrior, certified MagnificentBastard, [[RedBaron young conqueror]] at an impossible age, almost never plays by the rules and pulls crazy stunts not even the Eight Geniuses could predict only to always emerge victorious.
** BrokenAce: Yet is also a [[TheResenter resenter]] with daddy issues and deep-seated insecurities about the righteousness of his belief.
* AmbitionIsEvil: His father Sun Jian was a famous Loyalist who sacrificed his life to protect the Royal Seal from falling into the hands of wannabe usurpers, while he only wants to restore his clan's reign in the Eastern region and extricate it from any obligatory ties with the Royal Family (which is practically declaring the Eastern region an autonomy at best and a seperate country at worst). His object is thus relentlessly denounced by oppositions, who also like to remind him what a terrible son he is for not upholding his late father's belief. It causes him to develop self-doubts, [[spoiler:which later return to haunt him amidst the bouts of delirium he suffers in his dying bed.]]

* AnimalMotif: The tiger.
* ArmorPiercingQuestion: To Taishi Ci - "What is the meaning of loyalty?"
* '''{{Badass}}''': What do you expect from the guy whose animal motif is the tiger?
** AuthorityEqualsAsskicking: In charge, and is the best fighter of his clan.
** BadassBoast: "Heaven... you still protect the Sun clan."
** BreakTheBadass: "Break" is an understatement. Wiping the floor with them is more like it.
** CombatPragmatist: When it's him versus a horsed fighter, he aims for the horse and it works. [[spoiler:When it's him on a horse versus Zhang Liao, he ''knows'' Zhang Liao would aim for the horse and gives Zhang Liao a sound ass-kicking.]]
** CrowningMomentOfAwesome: Happens every time he charges alone into the enemy line and lives (which is, eh, all the time). The awesomeness is cranked up in one occasion, [[spoiler:where he grounded [[OneManArmy Zhang Liao]], then played the usual LeeroyJenkins card in his usual kickasstitude and screwed up the formations of Cao Cao's very well-organized army, ''then'' stormed through Cao Cao's famous Tiger and Leopard cavalry ''with his bare fists''. Shortly thereafter, [[OhCrap he got himself a weapon and chased after Cao Cao]]. Granted, the awesomness was cut short with Guan Yu appearing and scaring him off, but who isn't scared off by [[ThePaladin Guan Yu]]?]]
** CurbStompBattle: Not quite on Lu Bu's level yet, but ''holy shit'' this guy is pretty close. No one pulls a proud warrior (or a proud cavalry ''battalion'', for that matter) off his high horse like Sun Ce.
** DualWielding: Two halberds, but he also has a curious tendency to [[ThrowingYourSwordAlwaysWorks slip his hands]] with [[ImprobableAimingSkills deadly accuracy]].
** FoeTossingCharge
** GeniusBruiser: As Zhou Yu puts it: "A Lu Bu with Sun Tzu's wisdom".
** ImprobableAge: He leads the Sun army on a swift conquest of the Eastern region, defeating and outwitting men twice his age, and established the foundation of the Sun clan in 81 states in five years. Historically he's only around 24-25 [[spoiler:when he dies.]]
** '''LeeroyJenkins''': We find it awesome, but this aspect of Sun Ce isn't exactly encouraged in-story - after all, he's still the leader of an army and giving all precautions and advices the middle finger to charge right into the middle of the enemy line is ''not'' a risk-free, and therefore not at all recommendable, idea.
** OffscreenMomentOfAwesome: We only get to see the beginning and end of his conquest of the Eastern region, which is said to last five years, made of pure awesomeness, and has granted him legendary fame among the battle-weary Eastern warlords.
** OneManArmy
** SparingTheAces: To Taishi Ci and Zhang Liao.
** YoungConqueror: An actual in-universe RedBaron of his.
* [[spoiler:BodyDouble]]: [[spoiler:He pulled an epic one with Ling Cao, and everyone was fooled.]]
* BreakTheHaughty: Gets this every time people tell him he fails hard as a son of the Loyalist Sun Jian, and Cao Cao takes it even further by warning that he will not receive Heaven's blessings. This strikes a big chord with Sun Ce, since he's always believed that he is so successful with the Eastern region conquest because Heaven is on his side.[[spoiler: This trope is played ''terrifyingly'' straight during the hundred-day period of agonizing pains he suffers from an assassin's poisoned arrow, which culminate in him seeing himself flat-out condemned by his father in a dream for being a renegade who betrays Imperial Han, rather than a dutiful son his father'd wished him to be. [[TearJerker The entire scene is tear-jerking to behold.]]]]
* BreakThemByTalking
* CallBack: [[spoiler:Just like Ling Cao 19 volumes earlier, Sun Ce meets his end with an arrow to the head, and the last sane thought passing through his mind is also the narration line hanging in Ling Cao's death scene]]. Moreover, the one who [[spoiler:indirectly caused him to drop his guard and thus be vulnerable to that arrow]]? None other than [[spoiler:Ling Tong, to whom Sun Ce had even said, "If there is justice, when Heaven reprimands, pray that I suffer a hundred days of pain before I die!"]]
* TheChessmaster: A much more successful example than Lu Bu of an OneManArmy dishing out [[ThePlan a plan]] of his own.
* CuttingTheKnot: The primary advocator in Ravages. Throwing together all the toughest nuts and drop a freaking hammer on them is Sun Ce's way of doing things, and the way his gambits play this trope to all its worth cements his status as one of the major MagnificentBastard in-universe.
* DidntSeeThatComing: [[spoiler:Zuo Ci's assassins and their ambush.]]
* ExpectingSomeoneTaller: And it worked against ''everyone''.
* [[spoiler: FakingTheDead]]: [[spoiler:Once against Yuan Shu's assassination attempt, twice against Yu Ji's.]]
* FaceHeelTurn: [[DespairEventHorizon Sun Jian's premature death and the subsequent fall of the Sun clan]] turns Sun Ce completely off to the (traditionally valued) idea of following his father's loyal footsteps and returning to the court's service.
* ItsPersonal: A lot of the things he does are for the sake of avenging his dad's death. [[spoiler:He even tearfully admits it in his deathbed.]]
* [[spoiler:KilledOffForReal]]
** [[spoiler: PeacefulInDeath]]:[[spoiler: When Sun Ce finally dies after three months of suffering, Zhou Yu sees his spirit, gradually returning to his child form, run back to his father's arms.]]
--> [[spoiler:Sun Jian's spirit]]: [[spoiler:He's tired. Let him rest.]]
* KingIncognito: [[spoiler:No, he's not that burly, manly warrior with funny hairstyle and cool headband. See his cousin, the nondescript, laid-back, unassuming guy who is sent to take charge of Yuan Shu's asylum and has a good time with it with Liaoyuan Huo? Yeah, that's Sun Ce.]]
* MagneticHero
* MagnificentBastard: Outmaches his sworn brother Zhou Yu in this regard.
* MeaningfulEcho: [[spoiler:What was spoken by Ling Cao at his moment of death dawns on Sun Ce when he's shot in the head, similar to how Ling Cao died.]]
* PeekABangs
* RevengeBeforeReason: Is accused of this whenever his eagerness to eradicate the Taiping cult, his father's former archenemy, and to defeat Huang Zu, his father's murderer gets out of hand.
* RuleOfThree: [[spoiler:He avoids death at the hands of Taiping cult's assassins twice. He's not so lucky on the third time.]]
* SmugSmiler: Almost his default expression, because he's way too good at kicking asses. Somehow, he's also a...
* StepfordSmiler: Shows traits of this in the manhua. The novel plays it straight, in which his carefree facade hides a world of unspoken self-esteem issues, including but not limited to his desire for his strict dad's approval and his jealousy of Sun Quan for being the main focus of Sun clan's adoration and Sun Jian's fatherly love.
* TheReveal: [[spoiler: The "Sun Ce" that Gan Ning killed was actually Ling Cao, who acted as a bait to fool Yuan Shu into thinking Sun Ce was dead, so that the real Sun Ce (so far disguised as a distant cousin) could escape safely.]]
* TookALevelInJerkass
* WalkingSpoiler: It's hard to post any picture of him without spoiling [[spoiler:the 'fake Sun Ce' plan.]]
* WellDoneSonGuy: Turns out to be one, despite his constant condemnations of his father's characteristic loyalty which got him killed. In the side-story novel Bofu, he is this trope personified.
* WorldOfCardboardSpeech: A variation which leads to IAmWhatIAm-esque moments. [[spoiler:Sadly, the last one he receives gets him too high and and off-guard, leading to his death.]]
* YouKilledMyFather: To Yuan Shu and Huang Zu, and by proxy, to Huang Zu's boss Liu Biao.
* YoungAndInCharge
* YouthfulFreckles

!!Sun Quan

* BreakTheCutie: [[spoiler:During Sun Ce's hundred-day period of suffering from a poisoned arrow.]]
* ChekhovsGunman: [[spoiler:He's the boy who calls Shan Wu Ling "big sister" in a blink-and-you-will-miss-it moment in volume 6. Turns out they're not related at all.]]
* WalkingSpoiler: Like his brother, impossible to have any pictures of him posted without spoiling one of the longest Chekhov threads in Ravages so far.
* YoungAndInCharge: [[spoiler: Now official, after Sun Ce passes away.]]
* YoungestChildWins: In the novel Bofu, at least. Of the three children, Quan is the smartest child and takes after Sun Jian the most and thus is the clan's favorite.

!!Sun Shu

* ActionGirl
* AllLoveIsUnrequited: For a girl who isn't a bad catch at all, her streak of chasing after men who have deeper feelings for someone dead [[spoiler:or missing]] is really unfortunate. Once, it even gets her on the receiving end of a very cruel...
* BreakTheCutie: [[spoiler:Courtesy of Yuan Fang.]]
* SmittenTeenageGirl: To her fiancé, Yuan Fang. [[spoiler:She gets over it after he makes it clear that he doesn't love her, and tries to sacrifice her to help him escape from Dong Zhuo's army.]]
* TheBusCameBack: Disappears after the Luoyang arc, then returns briefly to announce her engagement with Liaoyuan Huo as a ploy to gain Sima clan's supports for the Sun clan's return to the Eastern regions. She has not been seen again since then.
* RescueRomance: To Liaoyuan Huo, after realizing he's saved her twice in the hostage rescue mission at Luoyang.
* {{Tomboy}}
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Yuan faction]]

* BadassCrew: The generals Yan Liang, Wen Chou and Zhang He, who are all Yuan Fang's loyal followers.
* BigGood: As the head of 18 warlords alliance at the start of the series, but only in name - the story quickly lets us know the warlords' self-serving nature and the Yuan is just as bad. They absolved from this status as soon as the Dong Zhuo left the capital and turned around to devour the other warlords one by one. By Guandu, they are the closest this series has to a BigBad.
* BigScrewedUpFamily: Enormous, and absolutely ''fucked up'' with sibling rivalry taken to its ugliest.
* BreakTheHaughty: The Liu, Cao and Sun force-feed them this trope.
* {{Fiction500}}: The clan which rules the Northern region.
* TheDragon: Yan Liang and Wen Chou for Yuan Shao. They're noted as his right and left-hand-man in warfare and earned their fame as the most fearsome of Northern generals some decades prior to the story.
* DroppedABridgeOnHim: [[spoiler:Sadly, Tian Feng, one of the supposedly wisest men of Yuan faction.]]
* GeniusBruiser: Wen Chou and Yan Liang. Ji Ling himself isn't lacking in the brain department.
* HoneyTrap: The famous beauty Lady Zhen to the Yuan brothers, arranged by Yuan Fang of course.
* HydraProblem: In a metaphorical sense. The Yuan clan is so big, and each clansman (especially the Yuan brothers) holds so much power and influence that it's in a constant state of internal conflicts, and both Yuan Fang and Yuan Shao sees uniting the clan as much a problem to tackle as defeating their many external, powerful enemies. Cao Cao even lampshades this at one point: assassinating Yuan Shao, the clanshead is not even an option, as many more Yuan Shaos will simply take his place.
* InadequateInheritor: The problem with Yuan Shao's three sons. Doesn't help that Yuan Fang is always there to put them down in the eyes of elder clansmen, either due to his schemes or sheer superior talents.
** The eldest, Yuan Tan, is remarked as being a temperamental leader. In the face of the furious OneManArmy [[spoiler:Liaoyuan Huo]], even with the entire cavalry force of Yuan clan behind him, Tan turned his tail and ran away into his own army's formation. It completely devastated his men's morale and cost them a victory in the beginning battle of Guandu arc. Tan soon became a laughing stock for the rest of the clan (partly thanks to Yuan Fang's men spreading the rumor as far as possible) and was essentially disinherited by Yuan Shao.
** The second eldest, Yuan Xi, is a wishy-washy womanizer who gave up his military control to Yuan Fang as soon as he got married to Lady Zhen, a beautiful woman whom three brothers were wooing (see HoneyTrap above).
** The third eldest, Yuan Shang, fares slightly better than his older brothers but still is a generally incompetent commander, and is known for hanging around opportunistic subordinates and outsiders on top of that.
* LargeHam: Ji [[CatchPhrase "OPEN YOUR EYES, FOOLS!!"]] Ling. Justified in that he's trying to boost his army morale.
* PaperTiger: Ji Ling. Poor dude isn't all that weak, but he just has to pick [[WorldsStrongestMan Lu Bu]], [[OneManArmy Guan Yu or Zhang Fei]] as his opponents.
* PutOnABus: Saving for the big shots like Yuan Shao and Yuan Fang, many Yuan members like Zhang He and Tian De appear early on in the story and only reappear when the Battle of Guandu approaches.
* SiblingRivalry: The worst case of this series. Yuan Shao's three sons Yuan Tan, Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang constantly squabble among themselves to get into their father's favors in the hope of becoming the sole heir. They disregard brotherly bonds, discredit and backstab each other to hell and back, and each relentlessly cultivates his own factions at the risk of incurring internal war within the clan. And if you count [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder Yuan Fang]] into the equation, it catapults this trope [[UpToEleven beyond the impossible]]. And then comes the Battle of Guandu...
** As in history it would prove to be [[spoiler:the downfall of the Yuan clan]], with the added twist that [[spoiler:Cao Cao's force concealed Yuan Fang's death so as to keep the post-Guandu infighting going]].
* TheUnfavourite: Yuan Shao's three sons, all of whom he holds in contempt compared to Yuan Fang.
* TheMole: Two of them. [[spoiler:Xu You for Yuan Fang, and Yang Qing for Guo Jia.]]
* TheWorfEffect: Principal victims are Yan Liang and Wen Chou, many times at the hands of Liu Bei' brothers. [[spoiler:Or Zhang Liao, who kills Wen Chou.]]

!!Yuan Shao
[[quoteright:245:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/RoT_Volume_043_0001_5398.jpg]]
-> ''"The world will be in the hands of my descendants."''

The leader of Yuan clan. From the perspective of outsiders, Yuan Shao is a conservative who prides himself on upholding the great loyalist tradition of his family background (a grand records of having produced three generations of family head risen to the prominent positions of excellency), but few know he harbors much darker ambitions. Knowing he cannot bring himself to disgrace the family by overthrowing the Emperor, Yuan Shao chooses to leave the finalization of his goal in the hands of his illegitimate and most beloved son, Yuan Fang. Seeing that Fang has no such intention at first, he killed his son's fiancee at the cost of Fang's love for him, reasoning that the hatred will be a powerful motivator. To aid Fang further in his quest for revenge and overtaking, Yuan Shao turns a blind eyes to most of his devious plans to emasculate his political enemies (among them Yuan Shao's three sons) and reinforce his own party's standing in the clan - even as Shao himself is slowly turned into a figurehead, stripped off of influence, as a result of it.

[[spoiler:The Yuan's defeat in Guandu deals Yuan Shao a debilitating blow and effectively removes him from his position of leadership in the clan. At the news of Yuan Fang's death, he finally collapses and dies with a broken heart.]]

* AbusiveParents: He never actively tries to quell the in-fightings his children are responsible for, and secretly encourages Yuan Fang's various schemes to exacerbate the situation. Taken UpToEleven in the Battle of Guandu, [[spoiler:when he's overjoyed to hear that Yuan Fang's master plan involves killing ''all three brothers'' and ''Yuan Shao himself'' to take over the clan.]]
* AloofBigBrother: To Yuan Shu, especially after the latter declares himself Emperor Zhongjia and founds his own country. [[spoiler:And he pretty much leaves Yuan Shu for death after he's defeated by Liu Bei, declining his requests for rations and backup troops.]]
* BreakTheHaughty
* ChewingTheScenery: In a HamToHamCombat with [[LargeHam Dong Zhuo]], no less.
* [[spoiler:DeathByDespair]]: [[spoiler:When Yang Xiu finally spills the beans about what happened to Yuan Fang.]]
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: Ultimately, his love and ambitions for Yuan Fang cost him and his clan everything.
** Had he bothered to raise his other sons properly and not just focused on Yuan Fang, it would have saved his clan a lot of unnecessary internal scuffles and concentrated their whole resources into crushing Cao Cao.
** Putting a check on Yuan Fang's schemes would cause something to a similar effect, since half the things that Yuan Fang does with his blessings involve aggravating the tension between his other brothers.
** Finally, the Yuan clan could still have crushed Cao Cao even after the ignominious defeat at Guandu (yes, they are that powerful) if only he had just come to his sense and suspected something was amiss when [[spoiler:Yuan Fang]] went missing for two whole years since Guandu and only communicated via letters. Believing in his son's scheme, he didn't, instead left the three brothers to their own device. The rest is history.
* {{Hypocrite}}: He wants to conquer China as much as every other warlord but feels that he cannot fail to uphold the image of the four-generation-loyalist Yuan clan, so he chooses to dump the dirty jobs onto his bastard son Yuan Fang. People can say what they want about Cao Cao, but at least that guy is openly disloyal.
* {{Irony}}: On account of their immense wealth, prestige and charisma, Yuan Shao and his clan surpass contemporary warlords, seemingly poised to swiftly crush any opposing forces and reunite China. Yet, after Lu Bu, they become the second powerhouse to fall before Cao Cao. Yuan Shao never lives to see it to the end, else he will have also found that the future Three Kingdoms shall be founded by Cao Cao, Liu Bei and Sun Jian's two sons - in other words, the very three warlords who used to be infinitely beneath him and whom he once looked down upon. Not to mention that by Yuan Shao himself is partially responsible for the fall of his clan by devising many gambits meant to strengthen its standings yet having them all backfire to his face (see TheChosenOne below).
* LargeHam
* [[LukeIAmYourFather Yuan Fang I Am Your Father]]: Which makes you kind of wonder why Yuan Fang didn't realize it earlier, especially since he was twenty at the time of this revelation, and his father died ''twenty-two'' years before that.
* MurderTheHypotenuse: What Yuan Shao resorts to when Yuan Fang stubbornly refuses the arranged marriage with Sun Jian's daughter.
* SoProudOfYou: When the true scope of Yuan Fang's {{plan}} in the Battle of Guandu finally dawns on him ''while he's being shot at'' by [[spoiler:Yuan Fang's archers]]. See Yuan Fang above.
* StrongFamilyResemblance: With his sons, who [[http://www.mangareader.net/336-31543-9/the-ravages-of-time/chapter-272.html also]] [[http://www.mangareader.net/336-39026-8/the-ravages-of-time/chapter-296.html resemble]] [[http://www.mangareader.net/336-39026-6/the-ravages-of-time/chapter-296.html each other]].
* TheChosenOne: Invoked - he wholeheartedly believes his son Yuan Fang is born destined to be the conqueror of the North and eventually of China, and devotes everything he has in preparation for that day. What he doesn't get is blindly putting all eggs in one basket is ''not'' something a wise bettor should do, proven by the fact that [[spoiler:once Yuan Fang is dead, and Yuan Shao follows him soon afterward, the Yuan clan's internal conflicts (which were part of Yuan Fang's master plan and implicitly approved by Yuan Shao -- he intended for Fang to win them) are left unchecked and instantly push the disintegration beyond any hopes of repair. What is left is easy picking for Cao Cao and Guo Jia.]]
* ToughLove: Yuan Fang being his favourite child, Yuan Shao spares no efforts to ensure he get to the top. Even when said efforts involve killing the girl he loves to force him into a prestigious arranged marriage.
* [[WellDoneSonGuy "Well Done, Dad" Guy]]: Turns out he's one at heart, despite having accepted that his dearest son will never reciprocate his familial love. [[spoiler:Becomes apparent when hearing Yuan Fang calling him "father" once instantly moves him to tears, and the peak moment of this being at Guandu when he realizes his son's overall plan.]]
* WellIntentionedExtremist: YMMV on "well-intentioned", but at heart he's a clanshead who looks out for its best interests by supporting his illegitimate son's grand scheme to seize control, unite the clan and take over China. Since said son happens to be [[MagnificentBastard Yuan Fang]], well...

!!Yuan Shu

* ZeroPercentApprovalRating: As he later finds out.
* BadSamaritan: To a T. His amiable facade fools no one, though.
* ButtMonkey: His and by extention his entire armies only shown fights are ones where they're defeated and outsmarted over and over again by every single major warlord. He hasn't been shown a single victory [[spoiler:and died in an argueably the most gruesome way out of everybody]].
** [[spoiler:Make that pathetic: slowly poisoned to death by Sima Yi, spends his last moment in rags and tortured with IncurableCoughOfDeath, amidst only a few loyal men by his bedside while the others are fleeing outside... The image is put in stark contrast with his remembrance of former days of glory, when he ascended as Zhongjia emperor.]]
* FauxAffablyEvil
* GenreBlind: He declares himself Emperor in an age where loyalty is still a respected social value, the Imperial clan still holds sway with its subjects, people still detest court usurpers, and not even Dong Zhuo or Cao Cao had the audacity to make themselves king (and get treated like villains of the century for being EvilChancellor). Yeah, [[SarcasmMode things are going to end well for Yuan Shu.]]
** AmbitionIsEvil
** BeingEvilSucks
* {{Gonk}}
* GoneHorriblyRight: His plans to obtain the royal seal and claim emperorship. Both of them work, and to disastrous results.
* [[spoiler:HeelFaceDoorSlam]]
* HopeSpot: Given one by Sima Yi in the aftermath of his final battle with Liu Bei - in exchange for food and a halt of Guan Yu's force, Yuan Shu would give a public statement to support Yuan Shao becoming Emperor and thus destroy Yuan Shao's reputation. [[spoiler:Sima Yi poisons him to death soon after.]]
* [[spoiler:HowTheMightyHaveFallen]]: [[spoiler:Offing him was perhaps an act of mercy on Sima Yi's part.]]
* HumiliationConga: Starting from the Sun Ce arc and throughout two encounters with Liu Bei and one with Lu Bu, he's constantly on the receiving ends of this.
* KickThemWhileTheyAreDown: After indirectly causing Sun Jian's death, his manipulations tear the Sun clan from inside out and almost completely break down their military force. Of course, he gets his due once Sun Ce decides to stop taking shits from him.
* [[spoiler:KilledOffForReal]]
* LargeHam: Especially after he declares himself Emperor. Apparently it runs in the family.
* NewEraSpeech: His team is fond of delivering these with all the positive effects ''averted'', something they never seem to notice.
* MeaningfulEcho: Goes from "Listening to the will of the people is obeying the will of Heaven" as Emperor-to-be to "Foolish masses..what are you thinking?" as [[spoiler:Emperor dethroned]].
* SmugSnake
* TheScrappy: In universe example. Nobody is willing to ally with him due to the fact that he declared himself as Emperor and made an enemy of almost every major warlord. [[spoiler:It's to the point where his own family rejects him and leaves him for death.]]
* VillainousBreakdown: Multiple times, and in the last time he never recovers. [[spoiler:His army is completely curb-stomped by Liu Bei's ragtag battalions of soldiers and raging civilians, then he finds himself isolated from the Yuan clan and denied of aids.]]

!!Yuan Shu's advisor

* [[spoiler:AssholeVictim]]
* TheChessmaster
* [[spoiler:DiesWideOpen]]
* HannibalLecture: To the "dishonorable" Shan Wu Ling. Cue Sima Yi retorts with an [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome awesome]] ShutUpHannibal and sweeps Wu Ling off her feet.
* IgnoreTheFanservice
* MuggingTheMonster: He hijacks several caravans (knowing the cargo belongs to Sima Yi) and kidnaps a group of Sun Ce's supporters to get Shan Wu Ling (not knowing among them there ''is'' Sima Yi). Not surprisingly, [[spoiler:[[KilledOffForReal he ends up like many assholes who crossed Sima Yi's path.]]]]
* NoNameGiven: [[EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep Everyone calls him advisor.]]
* PoliticallyIncorrectVillain: Invokes StayInTheKitchen to Shan Wu Ling, of all things.
* SmugSnake: Has shades of a MagnificentBastard, but ultimately fails to deliver. [[spoiler:He dies too soon.]]
* StrawMisogynist: ''Oooh boy''.
* TheStrategist
* UndyingLoyalty
* WouldHitAGirl
* TheWorfEffect: He invokes one against Shan Wu Ling, complete with a sound StayInTheKitchen lecture. [[spoiler:Then Sima Yi repays the favor.]]

!!Yang Qing/[[spoiler:Yang Xiu]]

* [[spoiler:AWolfInSheepsClothing]]
* DragonWithAnAgenda: [[spoiler:To Yuan Fang]] and as it turns out, [[spoiler:to Cao Cao as well.]]
* EyesAlwaysShut
* [[spoiler:FalseFriend]]: [[spoiler:To Yuan Fang]]. [[spoiler:Then to Cao Zhi as well.]]
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: [[spoiler:He's Yang Xiu, later known as one of Cao Cao's most famous advisors and supporter of his younger son Cao Zhi.]]
* KickTheDog: Poor [[spoiler:Yuan Shao.]]
* [[spoiler:HeroKiller]]
* [[spoiler:SecretIdentity]]: [[spoiler:Yang Xiu, son of Yang Bao, the former Grand Commandant and old-time rival of Yuan Shao. His mother is Yuan Shu's sister, so that makes him a cousin of Yuan Fang. Of course, there's a whole another business about him being Yang Xiu, just look at HistoricalDomainCharacter above.]]
* SmugSnake: He just can't help it. [[spoiler:Not when he's the one who ensures Cao Cao's victory at Guandu by burning the Yuan army's rations and personally racks up the highest body count by assassinating Yuan Fang, poisoning Tian Feng, and manipulating Yuan Shao to death.]]
* [[spoiler:TheNondescript]]
* [[spoiler:TheStarscream]]: [[spoiler:What he intends to be to Cao Cao.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Dong faction]]

* AssholeVictim: [[spoiler:Li Jue and Guo Si.]]
* BestServedCold: [[spoiler:Hua Xiong's subordinates Song Xian, Wei Xu and Hou Cheng, who joined Lu Bu's army to have a chance at revenge for Hua Xiong and Dong Zhuo.]]
* ChekhovsGunman: Xu Lin, ''twice''. [[spoiler:Hint: He's dead, but he has son''s''.]] Also Hua Xiong's subordinates Song Xian, Wei Xu and Hou Cheng.
* DragonWithAnAgenda: Lu Bu to Dong Zhuo.
* GreenEyedMonster: Hua Xiong to Lu Bu. One of the reasons he dislikes and distrusts Lu Bu is Lu Bu's rapid promotions in the faction and being adopted by Dong Zhuo within a year of joining them.
* FaceDeathWithDignity: [[spoiler:Zhang Ji.]]
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler:Niu Fu]] and [[spoiler:Dong Yue.]]
* IdiotBall: [[spoiler:After Dong Zhuo's death, his generals keep juggling it. Understandably, they don't last long.]]
* IgnoredExpert: [[spoiler:Jia Xu. Dong Zhuo should have listend to his plans instead of Li Ru's.]]
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Dong Huang, Dong Zhuo's nephew.
* SpannerInTheWorks: The 3rd camp captains. [[spoiler:And Dong Zhuo's edict.]]
* StupidEvil: Li Jue and Guo Si, [[spoiler:who abuse the Emperor and rampage Chang'an after Jia Xu's departure, and ultimately cause the downfall of Dong Zhuo's remnant faction with their interminable in-fightings.]]
* WeHardlyKnewYe: Xu Lin, who is praised as Dong Zhuo's best advisor, but dies in the 1st chapter. His death is also the start of many [[TheWorfEffect worf-effect-induced]] incidents caused by Sima Yi and the Crippled Legion in the entire Dong Zhuo arc.

!!Dong Zhuo

* AntiVillain: Type III.
* BreakThemByTalking
* TheChessmaster
* ChewingTheScenery
* CoolOldGuy
* EvilMentor: To Emperor Liu Xie.
* [[spoiler:GoryDiscretionShot]]
* [[spoiler:HoistByHisOwnPetard]]
* [[spoiler:KilledOffForReal]]
** [[spoiler:[[KilledMidSentence Killed Mid-Laugh]]]]
* KnightTemplar WellIntentionedExtremist
* LargeHam: In term of being ridiculously bombastic about it, no hammy characters in this series, not even Cao Cao or Yuan Shao, can break his records.
* MagneticHero: YMMV on "hero", but you cannot deny he is extremely charismatic.
* [[spoiler:MentorOccupationalHazard]]
* MoralEventHorizon: Mass-murdering court officials, deposing the young Emperor and giving his brother the throne, installing himself as the Grand Tutor, among others. The universal opinion is that he crossed it a long time ago.
* [[spoiler:MyDeathIsJustTheBeginning]]
* [[spoiler:ObiWanMoment]]: [[spoiler:He faces death with quite the dignity.]]
* PetTheDog: He's generally a respected role model to his daughter, nephew and two sons-in-law, who are both very loyal to his cause.
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: Dealt it to way too many people, and to his credit, only Yuan Shao has strong enough convictions to remain unwavered and talk back to him. [[spoiler:Gets one himself from Lu Bu when the later kills him.]]
* ScrewDestiny: Basically his response to Li Ru's prophecy of his death. [[spoiler:He almost made it, but eventually was not quite there.]]
* TheUnfettered
* TyrantTakesTheHelm

!!Li Ru

* TheChessmaster
* CoolMask: Dons one during his shaman session.
* TheFatalist: As Dong Zhuo's shaman, he is a believer in heavens and destiny. He predicted Xu Lin's death before it happened and is moved to tears when the prophecy came out that Dong Zhuo would die as well. In the later case he doesn't merely stop at YouCantFightFate and instead is inspired to actively prevent the prophecy from being realized.
* GoneHorriblyWrong: His plan to expose Lu Bu's treachery. [[spoiler:Subverted, then subverted ''again''. To sum it up, Lu Bu wins.]]
* HopeSpot: After he fully uncovers Lu Bu's false loyalty in front of Dong Zhuo's soldiers, he returns to his quarter to find the lantern symbolizing Dong Zhuo's life in his oracle, which was supposed to go out, lit up and takes it as a sign from Heaven that Dong Zhuo's life has been spared thanks to his efforts to counter the previous prophecy. [[spoiler:Then Zhang Liao reveals himself to not be dead, Lu Bu's coup d'etat still continues, he was the one who lit the lantern, then stabs Li Ru and sics three beguiled hostile captains on him.]]
* OvershadowedByAwesome: He tries hard, but eventually it dawns on him just how hopelessly overshadowed he is in the gambit expertise by other brilliant men like Lu Bu or Sima Yi.
* TearsOfJoy: As Dong Zhuo announces him his rightful heir after they successfully conspired to expose Lu Bu's usurpation.
* TooCleverByHalf: [[spoiler:Not only does his complex {{plan}} fail to save Dong Zhuo's life, it also causes his own death at the hands of the beguiled 3rd camp captains and sets him up as Dong Zhuo's murderer thanks to Lu Bu's very clever maneuvers.]]

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Other characters]]
!!Shan Wu Ling
[[quoteright:194:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/17-a_5509.jpg]]
-> ''"[[TemptingFate The Sima clan is already upon my lips.]]"''

Daughter of the Shan merchant clan, and fiancee [[spoiler:(later wife)]] of Sima Yi. Like Sima Yi, Shan Wu Ling possesses genius-level cunnings and ruthlessness, as well as a drive to gain profits for her clan's business with little respect for common ethics. Thus, similar to Sima Yi, she is the clan's strategist and the advisor-commander of its private assassin squad, the Defeated Generals.

Under her leadership, the Shan clan pursues a different policy from that of the rival Sima clan: they seek to associate with prominent warlords, such as Cao Cao and Sun Jian, to expand their influence, and the Sima's estrangement with such affiliation to preserve wealth is looked down upon as unambitious miserliness. As such, Shan Wu Ling doesn't hold Sima Yi in very high regards, and secretly aims to take over the Sima clan once they marry. [[spoiler:They finally meets in a mission to aid Sun Ce conquer the Eastern region, during which they are captured by Yuan Shu's advisor. When Wu Ling is humiliated by the advisor for trying to seduce him to get out of this pinch, Sima Yi, moved by her courage and noble intentions to protect her family, speaks up in her defense and genuinely accepts her as his wife. After he outwits and kills the advisor, she learns that he's Sima Yi and falls in love with him.]]

[[spoiler: It's later revealed that through the Shan clan's long-term relationship with the Sun clan, Shan Wu Ling is the sworn older sister of Sun Quan, future lord of the Wu kingdom. She and Sima Yi still assist the Sun clan in secret.]]

* AllIsWellThatEndsWell: [[spoiler:Although Sima Yi saves her life, it's still a rather dick move on his part to blackmail her family to make up for his monetary loss in this rescue mission. But she's already in love with him and they're about to marry and unite the two families anyway, so the incident is EasilyForgiven.]]
* [[BigDamnHeroes Big Damn Heroine]]: [[spoiler: Fakes insanity to save Sima Yi from being ratted out by Xu Ding's spy in volume 25. She also secretly harbors the Sima brothers, and arranges for her foster father to protect the remaining Sima clan's servants. [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome With her support, Sima Yi survives Xu Ding's manhunt and makes a spectacular comeback in volume 26.]]]]
* ChekhovsGunman: Appears very early on in volume 6, but does not returns until volume 15 and is revealed to be Sima Yi's betrothed in volume 16.
* CoolBigSis: [[spoiler:To Sun Quan.]]
* DistaffCounterpart: To her fiancé Sima Yi. Both are [[TheChessmaster intelligent and manipulative]], YoungAndInCharge of their family businesses, considered ''very'' dishonorable by common standards, and willing to go to extreme ends to expand the clan's influence. Though unlike Sima Yi, she's not averse to making big investments in warlords such as the Cao and Sun clan.
* [[spoiler:HappilyMarried]]: [[spoiler:To Sima Yi.]]
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Don't let her name fool you. [[spoiler:She's Zhang Chun Hua, Sima Yi's historical wife.]]
* FemmeFatale: [[InvokedTrope Attempts to be one]] to seduce Yuan Shu's advisor. It doesn't work, but Sima Yi appreciates the efforts.
* RichBitch
* RightInFrontOfMe: [[spoiler:When she realizes the manservant she's been casually leaking her unsavory marriage plans (among others) to is actually her fiancé in disguise.]]
* RescueRomance: [[spoiler:Falls in love with Sima Yi after he defends her honor and saves her from Yuan Shu's advisor.]]
* UnderestimatingBadassery: To Sima Yi, partly due to having never met him before and partly due to him (purposefully) giving her an exaggerated account of his achievements (or so she believes). [[spoiler:Cue a volume later, where he easily outwits a man who outwitted and humiliated her earlier and kills him, saving her life.]]
* ViolentlyProtectiveGirlFriend: Will do ''anything'' to aid and protect the love of her life.

!!Liu Da
[[spoiler:The founder and 1st generation leader of the Crippled Legion, and also the original legendary one-eyed assassin.]]

* ChekhovMIA: [[spoiler:He's first mentioned in the hostage rescue arc (volume 1-5) as a legendary assassin whose mantle Huo has taken up. Then he shows up in volume 15, very much alive and still kicking ass, ''and'' he introduces himself as Dian Wei's boss.]]
* CoolOldGuy
* CoolTeacher: He has [[IncrediblyLamePun a good eye]] for recruiting talented assassins who [[FutureBadass will become great assets for warlords in the future]]. Some of them are Liaoyuan Huo [[spoiler:who is Zhao Yun]], [[spoiler:Dian Wei]] a great general of Cao Cao, Xu Sheng and Pan Zhang [[spoiler:who serves Sun Quan]]. He also tutors Shan Wu Ling's little brother, [[spoiler:who is actually Sun Quan.]]
* EvilMentor: He's not really evil per se, but is definitely not a nice person.
* EyepatchOfPower: [[spoiler:Sports one when he was in charge of the Crippled Legion]].
* {{Jerkass}}: A coldly practical, calculating and full of GenreSavvy jerkass.
* [[spoiler:LivingLegend]]
* RetiredBadass

!!Liu Xie/The Emperor

* ArmorPiercingSlap: To Cao Cao.
* BadassDecay: He shows potentials of a capable Emperor under Dong Zhuo's tutelage, but reduces himself to a submissive figurehead under Li Jue and Guo Si.
** He has a brief makeover when he subdues Cao Cao in volume 19, but Guandu comes up and it turns out Cao Cao has taken the reins again.
* CatchPhrase: "[insert anti-heroic warlord name here]----!!!!! I resent that you are so late!." Said to both Dong Zhuo and Cao Cao, to which the latter comments that it's just his way of shifting blames for the fall of Han from useless Emperors to warmongering vassals.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: His supporting Lu Bu's scheme to assassinate Dong Zhuo was one of the worst examples in-story.
* LargeHam: Manages to play at it evenly with Dong Zhuo, and beats ''Cao Cao'' in what's very close to a HamToHamCombat during the Emperor "escorting" arc in volume 19. It's nothing short of a CrowningMomentOfAwesome for him in-universe. [[spoiler:Sadly, the display of his Imperial spirit stops then and there.]]
* PuppetKing
[[/folder]]
Characters/RavagesOfTimeOtherCharacters
----
10th Apr '13 10:45:37 AM Bibliotheca
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* DistressedDude: Gets hit with this more often than the others. He gets kidnapped at the beginning of Xuzhou campaign, then gets shot at the beginning of Guandu campaign [[spoiler:by orders of Yuan Fang]].



* TeethClenchedTeamwork: With Guo Jia at first, since his generous nature simply does not go hand in hand with Guo Jia's habit to massacre millions in his {{plan}}. It was quite one-sided as Xun Yu did most of the teeth-clenching while Guo Jia was totally cool with it. Their partnership significantly improves over time, though. [[spoiler:And it's completely averted with Guo Jia's death.]]
* TenMinuteRetirement: [[spoiler:Cao Cao's adoption of Guo Jia's vicious military strategies shocked him into shutting himself away (and being absent for the most part of Xuzhou campaign), but several volumes later he turned up to help Cao Cao out of a pinch against Lu Bu and Chen Gong]].

to:

* ReasonableAuthorityFigure
* TeethClenchedTeamwork: With Guo Jia at first, since his generous nature simply does not go hand in hand with Guo Jia's habit to massacre millions in his {{plan}}. It was quite one-sided as Xun Yu did most of the teeth-clenching while Guo Jia was totally cool with it. Their partnership significantly improves over time, though. [[spoiler:And it's completely averted with they managed to reconcile just before Guo Jia's death.Jia died.]]
* TenMinuteRetirement: [[spoiler:Cao :Cao Cao's adoption of Guo Jia's vicious military strategies shocked him into shutting himself away (and being absent for the most part of Xuzhou campaign), but several volumes later he still turned up to help Cao Cao out of a pinch against Lu Bu and Chen Gong]].Gong.




to:

* WhatTheHellHero: Nine volumes after the incident, he still chided Cao Cao for his approval of Guo Jia's massacre of Xuzhou.
10th Apr '13 3:54:33 AM Bibliotheca
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* ScrewDestiny: Li Ru prophe

to:

* ScrewDestiny: Basically his response to Li Ru propheRu's prophecy of his death. [[spoiler:He almost made it, but eventually was not quite there.]]



* TheFatalist: As Dong Zhuo's shaman, he is a believer in heavens and destiny. He predicted Xu Lin's death before it happened and Dong Zhuo's too, and in the later case he doesn't merely stop at YouCantFightFate and instead is inspired to actively prevent the prophecy from being realized.

to:

* TheFatalist: As Dong Zhuo's shaman, he is a believer in heavens and destiny. He predicted Xu Lin's death before it happened and is moved to tears when the prophecy came out that Dong Zhuo's too, and in Zhuo would die as well. In the later case he doesn't merely stop at YouCantFightFate and instead is inspired to actively prevent the prophecy from being realized.



* HopeSpot: After he fully uncovers Lu Bu's false loyalty in front of Dong Zhuo's soldiers, he returns to his quarter to find the lantern symbolizing Dong Zhuo's life in his oracle, which was supposed to go out, lit up and takes it as a sign from Heaven that Dong Zhuo's life has been spared thanks to his efforts to counter the previous prophecy. [[spoiler:Then Zhang Liao reveals himself to not be dead and the guy who lit the lantern, stabs Li Ru and sics three beguiled hostile captains on him.]]

to:

* HopeSpot: After he fully uncovers Lu Bu's false loyalty in front of Dong Zhuo's soldiers, he returns to his quarter to find the lantern symbolizing Dong Zhuo's life in his oracle, which was supposed to go out, lit up and takes it as a sign from Heaven that Dong Zhuo's life has been spared thanks to his efforts to counter the previous prophecy. [[spoiler:Then Zhang Liao reveals himself to not be dead and dead, Lu Bu's coup d'etat still continues, he was the guy one who lit the lantern, then stabs Li Ru and sics three beguiled hostile captains on him.]]
10th Apr '13 3:49:56 AM Bibliotheca
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* BadassBoast: This guy has a reputation for claiming to accomplish impossible feats with minimal forces and backing them up in ways you cannot believe. In fact it's gone to the point that even ''saying it alone'' is sufficient to scare off his opponents.

to:

* BadassBoast: This guy has a reputation for claiming to accomplish impossible feats with minimal forces and backing them up in ways you cannot believe. In fact it's gone to the point that even ''saying it alone'' is sufficient to scare off his opponents.opponents.
* BecauseDestinySaysSo: Believes Cao Cao is favored by Heaven, and it's his fate to serve such a man.



* ScrewDestiny: Li Ru prophe



* TheFatalist: As Dong Zhuo's shaman, he is a believer in heavens and destiny. He predicted Xu Lin's death before it happened and Dong Zhuo's too, and in the later case he doesn't merely stop at YouCantFightFate and instead is inspired to actively prevent the prophecy from being realized.



* HopeSpot: After he fully uncovers Lu Bu's false loyalty in front of Dong Zhuo's soldiers, he returns to his quarter to find the lantern symbolizing Dong Zhuo's life in his oracle, which was supposed to go out, lit up and takes it as a sign from Heaven that Dong Zhuo's life has been spared thanks to his efforts to counter the previous prophecy. [[spoiler:Then Zhang Liao reveals himself to not be dead and the guy who lit the lantern, stabs Li Ru and sics three beguiled hostile captains on him.]]



* TearsOfJoy: As Dong Zhuo announces him his rightful heir after they successfully conspired to expose Lu Bu's usurpation. [[spoiler:This triumphant moment doesn't last long.]]

to:

* TearsOfJoy: As Dong Zhuo announces him his rightful heir after they successfully conspired to expose Lu Bu's usurpation. [[spoiler:This triumphant moment doesn't last long.]]
10th Apr '13 3:29:18 AM Bibliotheca
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* GoneHorriblyWrong: Li Ru's plan to expose Lu Bu's treachery. [[spoiler:Subverted, then subverted ''again''. To sum it up, Lu Bu wins.]]



* TheChessmaster: Dong Zhuo and Li Ru. [[spoiler:Too bad Lu Bu still outdoes them.]]
* TooCleverByHalf: Li Ru. [[spoiler:Not only does his complex {{plan}} fail to save Dong Zhuo's life, it also causes his own death at the hands of the beguiled 3rd camp captains and sets him up as Dong Zhuo's murderer thanks to Lu Bu's very clever maneuvers.]]


Added DiffLines:

* TheChessmaster


Added DiffLines:


!!Li Ru

* TheChessmaster
* CoolMask: Dons one during his shaman session.
* GoneHorriblyWrong: His plan to expose Lu Bu's treachery. [[spoiler:Subverted, then subverted ''again''. To sum it up, Lu Bu wins.]]
* OvershadowedByAwesome: He tries hard, but eventually it dawns on him just how hopelessly overshadowed he is in the gambit expertise by other brilliant men like Lu Bu or Sima Yi.
* TearsOfJoy: As Dong Zhuo announces him his rightful heir after they successfully conspired to expose Lu Bu's usurpation. [[spoiler:This triumphant moment doesn't last long.]]
* TooCleverByHalf: [[spoiler:Not only does his complex {{plan}} fail to save Dong Zhuo's life, it also causes his own death at the hands of the beguiled 3rd camp captains and sets him up as Dong Zhuo's murderer thanks to Lu Bu's very clever maneuvers.]]
10th Apr '13 3:19:05 AM Bibliotheca
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* MadnessMantra: [[spoiler:"It doesn't hurt. It doesn't hurt. [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge '''''IT DOESN'T HURT''''']]]]

to:

* MadnessMantra: [[spoiler:"It doesn't hurt. It doesn't hurt. [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge '''''IT '''''[[RoaringRampageOfRevenge IT DOESN'T HURT''''']]]]HURT]].'''''"]]
10th Apr '13 3:16:54 AM Bibliotheca
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* Determinator: During [[spoiler:his last hurrah against Xu Ding]], he has one demand: "[[spoiler:Kneel. Kneel to the dead.]]"

to:

* Determinator: {{Determinator}}: During [[spoiler:his last hurrah against Xu Ding]], he has one demand: "[[spoiler:Kneel. Kneel to the dead.]]"


Added DiffLines:

* MadnessMantra: [[spoiler:"It doesn't hurt. It doesn't hurt. [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge '''''IT DOESN'T HURT''''']]]]
10th Apr '13 3:11:17 AM Bibliotheca
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** Back in volume 13 when he met Zhuge Liang, the usurpation idea was still all talk and there was no sign that it was specifically aimed at any warlord, though. The Sima clan wasn't officially in league with Cao Cao and Cao Cao was still a rising minor power, hardly "the villain destined to unite the land" as was later obviously shown.



* ShootTheShaggyDog: [[spoiler:Believing Sima Yi has given up on revenge for the Sima family, Xiao Meng decides to assassinate Cao Cao in broad daylight as his last duty to the clan. Only, Cao Cao still lives, he fails to get anything done, gets mortally injured and falls into Cao Cao's hands. Even worse is that we know (and he quickly realizes later) that regardless of whether the kill succeeds or not, by merely attempting it he can make things worse for Sima Yi since Sima Yi ''has'' a plan for revege, a plan so long-term that it requires him to bend his knees to Cao Cao and any tricky move on Xiao Meng's part would cost everyone's lives. Sima Yi barely manages to avert the ShootTheShaggyDog scenario going into full effect when he tips Cao Cao of the assassination and consequently exempts himself from further suspicions, which might be some sort of consolation for Xiao Meng, but at the end of the day Xiao Meng still dies a pretty shaggy dog's death that he could have avoided simply by having a little more faith in his master and bothering to contact him before trying anything.]]

to:

* ShootTheShaggyDog: [[spoiler:Believing Sima Yi has given up on revenge for the Sima family, Xiao Meng decides to assassinate Cao Cao in broad daylight as his last duty to the clan. Only, Cao Cao still lives, he fails to get anything done, gets mortally injured and falls into Cao Cao's hands. Even worse is that we know (and he quickly realizes later) that regardless of whether the kill succeeds or not, by merely attempting it he can make things worse for Sima Yi since Sima Yi ''has'' a plan for revege, a plan so long-term that it requires him to bend his knees to Cao Cao and any tricky move on Xiao Meng's part would cost everyone's lives. Sima Yi barely manages to avert the ShootTheShaggyDog scenario going into full effect when he tips Cao Cao of the assassination and consequently exempts to exempt himself from further suspicions, suspicions and Jia Kui incites the soldiers to call for Xiao Meng's execution on the spot, which might be some sort of consolation for Xiao Meng, but at the end of the day Xiao Meng still dies a pretty shaggy dog's death that he could have avoided simply by having a little more faith in his master and bothering to contact him before trying anything.]]
4th Apr '13 11:35:37 PM Chronic1
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Added DiffLines:

** Well, he had an intention of usurping Cao Cao before that, as evidenced by his early talk with Zhuge Liang. He just also had that sweet illusion that everything will always go his way, and his goal might be achieved without a real personal cost. Also, said dream also prophesied his best friend killing him, so that might have been another reason to not hurry the events.
4th Apr '13 11:28:29 PM Chortles
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** It's no coincidence that in the panel where Xiao Meng thinks "Debts must be repaid", the rest of the panel consists of the snarling face of [[spoiler:"Blind Xiahou" Dun]], who'd just [[spoiler:shot Xiao Meng with a thrown spear]], with [[spoiler:the eyepatch that he wears due to Xiao Meng having shot out his left eye]] clearly visible.



* CallBack: [[spoiler:Just like Ling Cao 19 volumes earlier, Sun Ce meets his end with an arrow to the head, and the last sane thought passing through his mind is also the narration line hanging in Ling Cao's death scene]].

to:

* CallBack: [[spoiler:Just like Ling Cao 19 volumes earlier, Sun Ce meets his end with an arrow to the head, and the last sane thought passing through his mind is also the narration line hanging in Ling Cao's death scene]]. Moreover, the one who [[spoiler:indirectly caused him to drop his guard and thus be vulnerable to that arrow]]? None other than [[spoiler:Ling Tong, to whom Sun Ce had even said, "If there is justice, when Heaven reprimands, pray that I suffer a hundred days of pain before I die!"]]
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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/article_history.php?article=Characters.RavagesOfTime